Several years ago I took a photo of a famous Japanese Maple tree in the Portland Japanese Garden in Washington Park. I recently pulled it out and used it to create several of my photo mandalas. I find that I keep playing with it. Once I start down the creativity path there’s just no telling where it will take me. I love being able to explore like this.
The past few days I’ve been pondering the waning moon. Each morning I watch the sliver grows thinner and thinner as it drops closer to the eastern horizon. Today I got to see the final fading stage as it rose just before sunrise. It was barely visible and occasionally I had to locate it by first finding Venus and then sliding my eyes down until it once again came into my awareness. Tomorrow it will be gone. And then it occurred to me that it’s all something of an illusion. It only appears to be disappearing. In reality, the moon is still there, fully and completely itself. And two days from now it will once again begin the process of shining forth, growing stronger and more brilliant with each passing moment. It waxes and wanes, and at the same time remains whole.
I think that’s how my life works. There are times when it feels like it’s waning, with parts of me fading away. But the truth is that I’m still me, and something new is just around the corner about to shine forth like the new moon. I’ve been officially retired for almost seven months now, and living into this new chapter has been a wonderful and surprising adventure – one which is still unfolding. On July 1st I stopped going to work, but that was just the beginning. I’m actually still retiring – still letting go of what no longer serves me – still learning what it means to be me in this new time of life. I spent a lot of years trying to be what I thought other people expected me to be. Some of that matched my own internal sense of self, but some of it didn’t. Part of what’s beginning to happen in this new chapter of my life is a re-discovering (and in some cases discovering for the first time) who I really am and what it is (in the words of Mary Oliver) I plan to do with my one wild and precious life.
The old moon is waning and the new moon is beginning to shine. I don’t yet know much about what that will look like, but I have a sense it will involve less “doing” and more “being.” There are always more lessons to explore and more of myself to discover. As a friend of mine regularly reminds me, I can begin again in any moment. Look out world, here I come.
On what sometimes seems like a regular basis I manage to get myself “wrapped around the axle” (as a friend of mine is fond of saying). I get laser-focused on something that seems to have gone wrong and then blow it completely out of proportion until it fills my whole awareness. To say this is an unhelpful character trait would be a massive understatement.
Which is why it is so helpful for me to take walks and fill my senses with the beauty that surrounds me. This morning on my hike, with fresh snow on the ground and temperatures hanging at about 8°F, I spent a lot of time simply standing still, followed by turning in circles, just to take it all in. The light and color in those minutes before sunrise flooded by senses and filled my soul. I remembered once again that I am deeply and intimately connected with the whole of creation. Whatever I was obsessing about slides into a saner and more realistic perspective. And all that is required is for me to show up, pay attention, and allow the awe and wonder to work its magic. You wouldn’t think I would forget something that simple and profoundly transforming, but I’ll need to remember again tomorrow (or 5 minutes from now). The good news is that the magic will still be there whenever I remember to look, and for that I am very grateful.