by Jennifer on December 11, 2008

Watching the moon at midnight, solitary, mid-sky, I knew myself completely, no part left out.

-Izumi Shikubu

I just came back inside – my cheeks are still cold – from my new favorite spot for ending a day. Last night and tonight, I’ve perched myself on two chairs – sitting in one, my feet propped on another – for half an hour, an hour, long enough, not long enough by far.

The night sky is a thing I need. I can’t explain, and don’t really need to, I suppose – if you get it, you get it. You know. We all have something that soothes us, and for me it’s this.

And tonight, I ache.

That’s it, in simple words. And if I write about these odd things I do to level myself, it’s because I can’t always tell you what drives me to the edge, but at least I can say what pulls me back.

Last night, when I first went out, I leaned back so my head fell back over the edge of the chair and the northeast sky looked upside down. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the first shooting star. At first, I thought I was wrong, that the moon was too bright to see meteors. So I turned myself around look to the northeast and, within minutes, I saw another. Five minutes later, one more. In a half hour, I saw five in all.

By then – by the time I saw the first one, even – I had let go of some of the ache, of some of the tears that came from whatever deep place tears wait and rest until we can’t keep them in anymore.

How do you separate the new pain from the old, the heavy from the light, the close from the far? You can’t tell, looking at the sky, the distance between you and stars, or look at a river and know how deep it is.

This ache, I can’t tell you much at all about it. It’s a mash of disappointment, fear, waiting, of feeling unsettled, of all the small pains. Of feeling like there aren’t any answers for the questions I have, and the questions aren’t even questions. They just are. It’s the struggle to turn those things into something solid, a rope to pull myself out of my sadness, a ladder to climb to a place where I can see and breathe and feel for one goddamn minute like I’m above it all. To stop feeling like the only thing between me and an angry, hungry bear is a pane of glass.To stop the voice in my head that tells me I’m alone. I’m alone. I’m alone.

To climb high enough to see that it’s beautiful, this life, if you look at it from end to end, from one horizon to the other.

To navigate my sadness hand over hand, never looking down, on this ladder made of starshine.

Tonight, the sky was quiet. I sat there for an hour, hoping to see more of the meteor shower from the night before. Nothing. Finally, cold and exhausted from the day, I walked to the middle of the yard for a last look at the moon. At that very moment, a bright, so bright, meteor flared right above me, between Orion and the almost-full moon. The reason I stress how bright it was, how bright it had to be for me to see it, is because of where it was in relation to all that moonlight.

If you saw me at that moment, you would have thought I was a crazy person. If you saw me, in my yard at midnight, with a blanket around my shoulders, the way I looked up at the sky like I hadn’t eaten in days.

If you saw me laugh and burst into tears, all at once.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

RiverPoet December 11, 2008 at 11:25 am

I’ll be wishing you many more shooting stars, bright as a child’s first hopes, to usher you into a calmer, happier place.

Peace – D

RiverPoets last blog post..Midlife and All Its Brambles (#1)

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 December 11, 2008 at 11:27 am

I am so sorry you are dealing with some pain. Know two things–you are not alone and things will work out for best 🙂
(But wait, you had a whole HOUR to yourself–what is that like?!)

Lisa@verybusymomwith4s last blog post..The Best Christmas Gift

flutter December 11, 2008 at 11:41 am

don’t ever let anyone tell YOU that you shouldn’t be writing.

flutters last blog post..We’re all crazy

Laura Lee December 11, 2008 at 11:56 am

Beautifully put. I actually completely understand the feeling of being completely worn down by anyone and everything in the world, going outside, looking up at the majestic stars in wonder and crying. It’s such an amazing experience for me to be out under the sky, which is so perfect, with me so small and seemingly insignificant and realize that there is something out there bigger than me, and that I can pull from it. Thank you!

Laura Lees last blog post..Excitement on the Coast

Jenn @ Juggling Life December 11, 2008 at 12:20 pm

Though I don’t have those feelings you’re writing connects me to them. What a gift you have.

Jenn @ Juggling Lifes last blog post..Writing I Have Done Today . . .

Hilary December 11, 2008 at 12:23 pm

It’s such an amazing feeling when we’re acknowledged by family, friends and ourselves. But when you’re acknowledged by the Universe.. well that’s just magic. 🙂

Hilarys last blog post..Old Friends

Gwen December 11, 2008 at 12:59 pm

I’m sorry you’re feeling an ineffable and pervasive sadness. May you have many more shooting starry nights to cheer you up.

And here’s a random piece of information about me: I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a shooting star. Now that’s pathetic, isn’t it? If I believed the Universe was speaking through them, I’d have to be depressed that it never deigned to talk to me.

Mrs. G. December 11, 2008 at 5:39 pm


Mrs. G.s last blog post..Slow Cook Thursday

Kimberly December 11, 2008 at 7:28 pm

Wow. It was a sign. Things are going to get better for you.

Beautiful words.

Kimberlys last blog post..A clean sweep

the mama bird diaries December 11, 2008 at 8:05 pm

Sounds like the moonlight is good for you soul. Keep looking up.

the mama bird diariess last blog post..surviving a sucky economy

texasholly @ June Cleaver Nirvana December 11, 2008 at 9:16 pm

Laughing and crying together is much better than crying alone.

texasholly @ June Cleaver Nirvanas last blog post..O Tannenbaum! Gesundheit!

JCK December 11, 2008 at 11:30 pm

Sending huge hugs to you, Jennifer. Wish I could take the pain away and hope it helps to write of it here.

As everyone who comes here again and again knows…you have a gift, my friend. And we all drink it in.

JCKs last blog post..That her son is freebasing…the Christmas season.

tysdaddy December 12, 2008 at 6:14 am

“How do you separate the new pain from the old”

Lately, I’ve begun to see life as a many-faceted jewel. We spit and polish one side only to notice the smudges left on the others. So we twist it and spit and shine some more, but the smudges show up again. And yet, it is a jewel nonetheless.

This is why I come here . . .

tysdaddys last blog post..Pappy’s Homework

jenrantsraves December 12, 2008 at 7:20 am

I was just thinking today, if I had a time machine and I could go back and change anything, would I? And, if I changed just one little thing, would I be a completely different person now? What do you think? Would you do it?

Shashikiran December 12, 2008 at 9:43 am

Such a coincidence. I just came down after seeing the almost full moon, my wife and I traced some constellations, and I thought of your blog and came over. Also coincidentally, I’ve made a reference to the moon in my own last post.

Loved your post. Good writing, as always.

fancy feet December 12, 2008 at 11:29 am

“To navigate my sadness hand over hand, never looking down, on this ladder made of starshine.”
Beautiful….bittersweet and beautiful.

There is something magical about the sky and its neverendingness. It’s easy to get lost in and come away with something brilliant….like you did.

fancy feets last blog post..Comfort Zone

Reluctantfarmchik December 12, 2008 at 7:38 pm

What a gorgeous post – and isn’t it a great thing that you’ve found what pulls you back? I think that is more important than what takes you to the edge. Patience pays off – and your shooting star is evidence. So excellent. I love your writing. You are a word wizzard (or is it witch? – nah)

Reluctantfarmchiks last blog post..iPhone Cloudwatch

cce December 13, 2008 at 5:58 pm

Aw man, this sadness thing seems to be pervasive. Hope it’s not contagious because then I’d feel sorry for having possibly passed it your way. And I’m so envious of your certainty, your method by which you set your self back to center. I wish that the stars or the moon could make me feel something close to safe.
Wishing you a return to happiness, one bit of starshine at a time.

cces last blog post..The LED Spirit of X-mas

phd in yogurtry December 14, 2008 at 12:13 am

all of us are in the gutter ….

phd in yogurtrys last blog which this mom is left speechless

maggie, dammit December 14, 2008 at 11:23 am

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

maggie, dammits last blog post..Marking Time (A prayer.)

Louise December 16, 2008 at 1:33 pm

I hope the weather permits you to continue this soon, even if there are no falling stars. There is always SOMETHING soothing in the night sky. Especially at midnight when all else is quiet.

Louises last blog post..Snowy Volcanoes–My World

V-Grrrl December 18, 2008 at 8:54 pm

I know that ache. That feeling of all experience, old and new, pinging my soul at once. That sense that I’m never going to make sense of my life and my choices, no matter how long and hard I try to “process” it.

The woods are what call me. I go for long hikes by myself and walk and weep and lean against the trees and find peace again.

V-Grrrls last blog post..The Ghost of Christmas Past

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