I learned recently that the moon wobbles. Observing a simulation of that rocking motion – libration, it’s called – via a NASA app on my iPad is a cheap thrill indeed. Connecting this mottled image in my hand with the glorious, full orb in the sky tonight is a stretch . . . .and yet.
I can’t say whether the moon in my hand is in collusion with the moon in the sky, but I can say I feel wired, jittery. Wobbly. The sense of time passing grounds me. The possibility that so much still lies ahead lifts me. I loved coming of age in the Sixties, for all the personal and political strife it presented. I am now in my sixties, the full moon coinciding (give or take a day) with my birthday this year. Next year, astrologically speaking, may be a big one: 12/12/12.
A poem by William Stafford would be welcome any day of the year, but I take the timing of this one’s appearance personally, a gift as mysterious as the moon itself, with its reminder of waxing and waning and, yes, wobbling. You Reading This, Be Ready:
Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life –
What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?
My understanding of the phenomenon dubbed moon wobble is that the face I see in the sky tonight is ever-so-slightly different from what I saw yesterday or what I’ll see tomorrow. Of course, this is not visible to the naked eye. What ever is?
A few weeks ago I sat across a table in a light-filled NYC restaurant, looking into the face of my longest, dearest friend. BFF, yes, even before (and without) the short-hand. Sure, we both look (a little) older, but the smile I always recall when I think of her, the one that taps at a heart as golden as it gets (and gives), has not changed. We talked as if we had seen each yesterday, not years ago, when she relinquished to me that cherished volume, ‘The Sherondas.’
Inside the pages, a little fragile now, is a weekly record of our club meetings. We collected dues. We argued. We planned parties. We watched “American Bandstand.” We cried about boys. We were preteens caught up in the music of those great girl groups. It’s hardly a stretch to hear echoes of the Shirelles in the circle we became, the letters of each of our names strung together to form the Sherondas circa 1961.
My stint as recording secretary would never lead me to believe I had the stuff real writers are made of : “We were eating and eating till we decided we needed some good, rude arguments.” Then again, it wasn’t my job to comment, just record, though each of us, in turn, did manage to bring a little of her own flavor to the minutes, my BFF the most spirited of all. We let the memories roll as we sipped our drinks and nibbled on food. I handed her the treasured record of a very innocent time. She wants to share it with her daughter, recently married. She plans to make two laminated copies, one for each of us. The information it would retain, for someone’s future curiosity, is less important than the fact of its existence.
My daughter, it so happens, works on a TV show about a group of teen witches, “The Secret Circle.” Innocence may not be what it once was, and, yes, birthdays have a way of making me feel “captive on that carousel of time.” And, whether or not Marlo Morgan’s account of her walkabout in Australia, Mutant Message Down Under, was a hoax, one lasting impression it made on me was the suggestion that the nomadic Aboriginals she wrote about do not celebrate getting older each year. “We celebrate if we are a better, wiser person this year than last.”