I woke up just before 4:00 am and almost immediately started crying, even sitting up gasping between sobs. The release of emotion had a calming effect as I laid back down and thought of my husband. Today I’d be spreading his ashes. I wiped away the tears from my cheeks, and sat up on the edge of the bed meant for two.
As every morning, I walked to the kitchen sink and drew water to drink, 24 ounces, and then an equal amount in a pitcher for the coffeemaker. I noticed a brightness on the dark landscape outside the kitchen window. Then I remembered the full moon was just two nights away. As I leaned closer to the glass, I saw a slightly ovoid bright moon in the western sky, and thought, “That’s cool. I wonder if the coyotes and mule deer are noticing the same scene.”
I returned my attention to making coffee and gathered my writing materials for my daily journaling. As I sat in the semi-dark, writing my thoughts on the emotional start to my day, something caught my attention in the picture window to my left across the house. The moon was starting to set in earnest. My curiosity stirred. I turned off the reading lamp and waited for my eyes to adjust. I felt drawn to the moonlight like a Luna moth drawn to a porch light.
The brightness of the moon was so intense, I shielded my eyes to better adjust to the winter landscape outside. A warm few days had melted most of the snow, revealing the dead stalks of native grasses. No animals materialized in the moonlit landscape, but I felt their presence, the rabbits like statues hoping to escape a predawn meal for a coyote or owl.
My attention turned back to the rapid setting of the moon. The shadowy surface mesmerized me as the unseen energy filled my heart with joy. A smile spread across my face.
I continued to watch the moon gain momentum as it drifted downward toward the rocky ridge of Carnero Canyon. At the connection between the heavens and earth advanced I saw the outline of a pinon pine branch backlit by the moon. I imagined a giant magnifying glass between my eyes and the tree half a mile away. As I watched the final seconds of the moon’s descent, my chest felt warm in the beauty of the moment, grief banished. The bright orb slipped out of sight, leaving behind a glow in the dark sky.
The simple act of being in the moment granted my soul peace and love. I was no longer a prisoner of my feelings. What had started as a very sad day had turned into the promise of happier times.
Yesterday I accompanied a friend, Susan Swern, on her eight hour round trip to Aspen. Her goal in town was to speak to an art dealer and an autograph expert. We both love road trips, so it was perfect. She is also my eating coach with Eating IQ. At various times during the drive, she asked me to join her in an exercise in “Living in the Moment”.
“For 5 minutes, observe the scenery. Just notice.” she said.
I thought, that will be easy. Boy was I wrong! Everything reminded me of my husband who had passed 18 months earlier. Tears streamed down my cheeks. We talked about how my thoughts were intruding, bringing in sadness.
She said, “You control your thoughts. Let’s try again.”
The second time was easier. I saw the fences in the snow and noticed the posts were thick, then thin, then thick. My thoughts invaded again. “I remember learning to draw perspective with fences and telephone poles when I was practicing drawing as a girl.” Oops! Those thoughts are persistent! But it also reminded me how I would always be in the moment when I was drawing or painting. Hours would pass without notice. Only the act of drawing was reality.
The third time was the charm. We were in Glenwood Canyon, the Colorado River slowly flowing west, dark against the snowy shore. Red rocks formed the canyon walls with tall dark spruce clinging to cracks with a backdrop of bright white snow. I achieved the joy of Living in the Moment by simply observing what is.. now. Ahhhh.
I remember how much I enjoyed reading about the Chinese zodiac on the paper place mats in the Chinese restaurants in small Florida towns. Do they still make those place mats? Now I make my own Asian food or order take-out. My Chinese zodiac animal is the Water Snake, which is perfect for me as I have always loved snakes. My childhood was spent in the midst of a citrus grove on the shores of a Florida lake, a perfect location to see snakes. I’ve never felt the fear most people experience. Instead I have an intense curiosity and feel gratitude for every snake that crosses my path.
Monkeys are very different for me. They always bothered me somewhat, screaming as they swing from branch to branch in zoos or as a child, watching the escapees in the trees surrounding Silver Springs, Florida. My Italian-American mother-in-law had a pet monkey who liked to throw his feces at people he didn’t like. Thankfully, this monkey was no longer in residence during my visits. The horoscope for Snakes is pretty good during this Year of the Monkey. Maybe monkeys are OK now.
Reading about the 2016 Year of the Monkey, I’ve learned new things about the Chinese New Year calendar.
- The idea of compatibility based on your horoscope originated with the Chinese zodiac.
- Celebration of the Chinese New Year is complex. February 7th is the Eve, the 8th is the Day and the 22nd is the Lantern Festival.
- If your Chinese zodiac is the Monkey, this year is thought to be unlucky for you. How to be lucky in your zodiac year.
- Each zodiac animal is associated with one of the five elements. In 2016, the Monkey is associated with Fire.
- If you were born in the Year of the Monkey, your personal traits are witty, intelligent, ambitious, and adventurous.