The Earth Without the Moon

I am a writer.

I am also a mother.

Sometimes these two soulful, vast and difficult trades I have chosen for myself seem to be symbiotic; one job perfectly complements the other, lending strength and metaphorical beauty to each experience.

Other times, not so much.

The constant struggle for time, the slow, painful growing of patience, monotony’s strain on creativity, the constant fight to finish tasks and reach goals (i.e. finding self realization) seems to pit one purpose against the other almost indefinitely, and I am left wondering why on Earth any human would ever choose to be both.

And then one night, having driven myself crazy, and (literally….. I drove myself literally) far away from both of these trades, I figured out why.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning.

No, never mind, I don’t have time to go back to the beginning, I’m a mother. Let me summarize.

As a mother, there are certain days when it seems everything points to the fact that you just aren’t enough. You’re falling short. Not stacking up. You can’t be what anyone needs. Between your children’s constantly growing, changing list of needs and your own exhausted, (though well-intended) inability to possibly meet them all, sometimes a mother asks herself, inevitably:

“What is the point?”

This phenomenon is not unlike being a writer in many ways, but I’m going to leave it to you to draw your own parallels there. Let’s just say for all intents and purposes, I was having one of those days, in both regards. Whenever I have a day like that, whether it’s parenting-related, crazy-writer self-talk or both, I tend to naturally want to give myself some distance from the situation; an instinctive need for Perspective.

So I got in my car and I just drove. I passed the outlying farms and suburban communities, I passed the adjacent towns. I kept driving. I passed the further towns and suburbs and cities. I nearly took an exit, but I still didn’t really have answers or peace of mind, so I kept driving. Eventually I ended up nearly 50 miles from home, in the city. I took an exit and simply followed the path of least resistance, which led me up to a mountainside community of quaint, historic homes. It seemed to me like I had driven a thousand miles; the quiet neighborhoods a different realm.

I was beckoned to exist inside of it. I wanted to live there, if only for a couple hours. I pulled into a church parking lot and took out walking.

The annoying voice in my head was confused.

Why? You should be home tucking your kids into bed or folding laundry. You should be cranking out that new scene, or finishing up that review, or submitting that article. What do you think you’re doing, walking around in the city at night, so far away from your chosen responsibilities? 

I kept walking. The luminescent yellow glow of kitchen lights and living room lamps cast a lovely peach-colored light out onto the sidewalk, and a bone-colored Gibbous moon hung like a rounded spotlight in the early evening sky.

The moon.

I sat down on a patch of grass in a common area to consider it.

A hummingbird buzzed across my peripheral, pausing in mid-air to consider me.

hummingbirdA few weeks ago my daughters and I, faced with the long weeks of summer vacation ahead, decided to pick four subjects to learn about, every other week over the course of June and July. It gave us something to do together, some things to gather and plan, and a few activities and outings to look forward to. For our first subject, we chose to learn about the moon. In the days leading up to my strange excursion, we had learned together about the moon’s surface, how it was (theoretically) formed, its phases, and how it affects the ocean tides.

As I sat there gazing at it through a clearing in the tall trees lining the street, somewhere in the confines of my writerly, motherly heart, a strange connection was made.

I was the moon.

Mothers, everywhere are the moon.

We are quiet, radiating forces orbiting around these strange and precious spheres of life, we are transformations of other forces from long ago, held there by a strange gravitational pull. (Did you know scientists recently discovered both ice and evidence of volcanic activity on the moon? Yes, we did in fact exist as other forces before we were mothers.)

We have our influences over these strange slightly off-spinning entities. We illuminate their darkest nights. We bring forth life onto their shores and then quietly recede. We are a powerful, glowing force for our strange, beautiful, violent and perfect little globes.

The moon brings to Earth a quiet, powerful presence that the sun simply cannot.

And yet, we are limited in our affects on that which we orbit. Other things come into their atmospheres over which we have no control. For certain events, we can only hang stationary in their peripheral and offer our light when the darkness comes.

We are often frustrated because we can simply not meet all of our children’s needs.

But you see, sometimes, we simply aren’t meant to.

Thanks once again to my weirdly innate metaphorical thinking, I began to feel slightly better about my mothering ability. And then I thought about my other job. Why was I given (cursed with?) the strange, gravitational pull to write?

Earlier that week, before my feeling inadequate, before my literal drive for perspective, I knew there was something I wanted us to learn: What would the Earth be like without the moon?

Here’s what I found:

The moon helps keep the Earth balanced in a stable rotation. Without it, our axis would vary tremendously, sometimes wobbling in instability.

The ocean tides would rise and fall less than half of what they currently do. Much of tidepool life would likely cease to exist.

Days would be shorter.

Nights would be longer.

The sky would be darker.

Technically, one could exist without the other. But at what cost?

I could stay in this strange neighborhood and begin living out another life entirely. My children would survive, evolve even, without me in their orbit. But who would hold them steady in their axis? Who would bring strange and beauty onto their shores? Who would cast a soft light into their darkest nights?

I could also abandon writing for motherhood.

But then, what strange symbiotic presence would lead me back home on my darkest nights?

What other outside force would make me stop to consider my purpose, To ask of me what I can bring into my children’s world, simply by being what I am?

What gravitational pull would keep their orbit (and mine) in balance?

 

Earth and MoonThe Earth without the Moon. A strange and fascinating premise.

But I think I’ll keep them both.

 

Till next time,

-C

Top Ten Tuesday- Ten Signs You Might Be a Writer

the-writer2

10 -You notice all the things

This means you not only take interest life’s little details, you relish them. You appreciate sunrises, full moons, the smell of coffee percolating and the sound of your feet crunching on gravel. You don’t simply move through life in a happy blur. Rather, you get intoxicated in all the sights and sounds life has to offer:  Watching a bumblebee light on a lily, noticing the sticky yellow on the fuzzy surface of its back as it dips between blooms. Hearing the high notes of a classical prelude or the low notes of a Red Hot Chili Peppers ballad and finding the song reaches depths of your soul that can’t be named.

Bonus points if you not only notice the  details, you assign meaning to them, i.e., the patterns in the shadow of leaves remind you of a lace runner on your Grandmother’s kitchen table. This is obviously a sign, so you drop everything and call her.

9- You create alternate endings for…everything

You know without a doubt what should have actually happened at the end of The Notebook. You’re sure you know the missing answers in all the episodes of Lost. And you dream of what could have happened had Daisy never married Tom in The Great Gatsby…

You find yourself asking “What if” for things outside of movies too. Past relationships. Friends career choices. The road you took to work this morning. Each of those choices might have lead to alternate events, and you can’t deny you’re intrigued by that notion.

8- You regard reading as a near spiritual act

Every dedicated reader knows it’s bliss to get lost in a good book, but to a writer, a good book is a revelation. Pick up any of your favorite novels and you start finding truths on every page, parallels that speak to your life and what you’re navigating through at that very moment.You find signs in the dialogue, answers to all your big questions in the narrative.reading-a-book

You read and feel that life has new meaning. And sometimes, what you’re reading starts to make more sense than reality. Yep, you’re probably a writer.

7- You people-watch with a passion

Linger at a coffee shop or a city park and you instantly find yourself lost in the people around you. Wonder what she’s going to name her daughter, how she met her husband. Wonder why he’s red-eyed and puffy-faced, and yet breaking up with his girlfriend via Skype.

Your watching and wondering quickly heightens to the next level, in which you answer all the questions in your mind about the people you’ve been watching. She’s going to name her daughter Nina, after her sister. He can’t stand to break up in person because deep down he still loves her. Then…you create imagined scenarios for these people you’re watching.

You’re casting characters my friend. Your soul is trying to put them inside a story.

6- You daydream about fictional characters

Speaking of characters…Ever thought it would be titillating to have tea with Mr. Darcy? Yearned to forge that horrible, dark void with Frodo?  Or compared your current love-interest to the main character in the novel you’re reading…once, twice, a dozen times?

Yeah. Us too. You aren’t weird. But it’s a good sign there are probably characters in you waiting for the chance to be written into existence.

5- People say you’re a dreamer

But you’re not the only one… Head in the clouds, scatterbrained, wanderlust, or preoccupied. If any of these names have ever been cast at you, chances are your imagination is working at flittle_dreamer_wallpaper__yvt2ull capacity and creating something beautiful.  You have a literal art factory in there, stories waiting to find their way into the universe.



4- You’ve ever thrown a book across the room

Books are sacred, yes. But when they are bad, you take it personally. Poorly written, overstated, or books that take cheap shots at unsuspecting readers send you reeling, and that book flying.

We feel ya. Bad writing is like an insult you can’t shake. You have to do something physical to the book to feel even slightly satisfied.

3- Blank notebooks excite you

Simply put, something about all those blank pages is intriguing. The open possibilities of what might come to life in those lines…

2- You like big words and you cannot lie

You enjoy language, and sometimes use unusual words, just for thChild reading a dictionary in school uniforme sheer joy of their weight on your tongue. Imbrication. Unencumbered. Labrynthian. Mellifluous. You wonder why your friends don’t understand that words like these are music.

And…if you read the dictionary for fun as a kid, you most certainly belong in a writers circle. It’s the only place you won’t be referred to as a nerd.

1- You write to resolve

You have a fight with your best friend, and instead of calling her up to sort things out, you write her a novella-length email. When considering whether to take a new job, you write down all the reasons you might be in love with it, and all the reasons you might regret leaving your current employer. Yes, part of this is a natural and organized way to discover feelings and weigh options. But not everyone’s mind works this way.writing on notebook

If you can come to major conclusions in your life through a sharpened pencil, your favorite pen, or a keyboard- you probably have a knack for writing. It’s not only the process, it’s what happens between the lines. Insight. Creativity. Epiphany. Written to life.

We hope you decide to join us.

Til next time,

~Cindy

Top Ten Tuesday

Hey Firefans,

We decided to try something new this month, a weekly “Top Ten List” about writers. Whether these will continue to be humorous, sarcastic, or downright bitter, I simply cannot predict. Coming from our group, I suspect you will see a bit of each.

This one is based on a few things I’ve come across during the last year- having admitted to the world that I like to write fiction. Lots of polite-yet-unsettled smiles and awkward silences at family picnics, if ya know what I mean. So I thought I’d start with a list of our quirks to get this stuff out there in the open, hopefully save a fellow writer somewhere a little embarrassment.

Top 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Fiction Writers

10 – We compare real people to fictional characters. (Sorry about that one folks. It’s morally unjustifiable. We know. But it’s truth.)

9- We have imaginary friends. (Otherwise known as fictional characters.)

8 -Writers are not afraid of hard work. Most of us have other jobs, and besides writing is really *&#*#! hard work, most of the time!

7- That being said, there is such a thing as self-induced writers block. And procrastination can be friend as well as foe.

6- We do not wear sweaters all the time, own multiple cats, and drink coffee religiously. Eduard “Santa” Gorey and kitty.

(Well…I do adore a good cardigan. By pure coincidence, I own two cats and and… Okay can we just scratch this one?)

5- All writers are not grammar freaks. We write incomplete sentences, misuse apostrophes, change tenses inappropriately all the time. We have just become adept at finding mistakes and fixing them before you see.

4 – We don’t always write what we know. I mean, really? That’s like going to an amusement park for the first time and only riding the parking lot shuttle.

3 – You probably aren’t in our novel.

(Along with this, please don’t ask us if you can be in our novel.)

2-  Some modified version of something you did or said at any given moment in time is probably in our novel.

Including you having asked if you can be in our novel.

 

And the Number One Thing You Probably Didn’t Know About Fiction Writers…

1-  Most of us aren’t writing to get published, get on the NY Times Bestseller list and become famous authors drinking imported Italian coffee and buying diamond studded collars for our rooms full of cats.

We aren’t writing because it’s a hobby either.

We’re writing because, as Gloria Steinem said:

“It’s the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel like I should be doing something else.”

Until next time,

~C