We take the moon for granted. Through some divine campaign of evolutionary marketing, we have convinced ourselves that the most glorious achievements should be attributed to the sun. We are empowered on sunny days, like the sun crawls in through our windows, onto our kitchen tables, and into our frosted glasses, with all the powers to photosynthesize this fructose orange syrup into the nectar of Apollo; the breakfast of champions and the leanest, greenest, glucose-loving machines, packed with white-cloaked endorsements of Vitamin D-- and hey, even packaged prettily in a pleasing, bold, and tropical blue! What’s not to love?
How glamorous is the sun that paints vast lands of starchy pebbles, forgotten weeds, and dusty sands into a backdrop of this season’s hottest cinematic novella? Like its carefree, bathed, and sultry protagonist, the sun arrives at its own leisure and turns a subtle entrance grand. It apologizes, barely, by flicking an award-winning smile, the kind that is so pristine that if you stare at it long enough, you’ll start seeing radioactive blue spots in your eyelids where those impeccable rays last left their impression… (you‘re welcome). The sun is moody and self-centered. It wears sunglasses to shield itself from its own protruding light. A self-proclaimed artist, so bored with the conformity of pastel sunrises… these days, it prefers to experiment with watercolors (and when asked if this is just another theatrical phase, its publicist on Channel 6 says it cannot be reached for further comment). The sun is boastful, erratic, and lazily subscribed to some heliocentric clock; but it is always loved (and noticed at the very least).
The moon, on the other side, has the thankless job of following the earth like a tragic puppy, forever in its final stages of youth-driven cuteness, lamely existing somewhere between a teenage rat terrier and a premature mutt. Even more, it sometimes seems like the moon is just chasing the bacon-flavored coat tails of the sun. Unlike fanatic planets of the solar system, the moon is more like an under-noticed understudied intern. It shyly admires the sun from afar, and tirelessly races to fetch its massive, fat-free, Splenda-injected doughnuts every evening. If you pay close attention, you can see a giant Berliner become remnants within a month, or approximately 27 days, across the sky.
Well, the Sun can buy its son a Lamborghini, but it can’t buy the comfort of a backseat, street-lit lullaby, where in the dark, you can count the rhythmic light posts and get to somewhere around 54 before, suddenly, everything is black and you’ve either entered a really long tunnel… or you’ve lost waking consciousness, and count. Then some dumb, old song becomes your favorite, and you don’t really remember why until one day, your dad dies. And you’re sitting on a hard, wooden chair in an empty, coat-filled hallway with your face like gardened roses, red and buried in your trembling, funeral-attending hands; and you’re wondering something unanswerable, like if you ever really knew him.
Then you hear something that makes your sternum kick itself a little, and your toes flex to a beat. Your face rises slowly and bewildered, like the moon, ‘cause you remember that it was the last song playing on the radio, every time, right before you fell asleep in the back seat of his car. You never saw it; it was dark, you were young, and you were busy counting lamp posts because they reminded you of mini-repeating versions of the sun. That was the perfect time to watch you in his rearview mirror, see your eyes flutter when you got to 42, and he quietly turned up that song, every time; because you, you were his favorite, secret lullaby… and yet, you continue to wonder something unanswerable, like if you just made all of that up entirely, or if you read or saw something like it on TV when you were a kid, or if you thought about it subconsciously a million times, or if you ever really knew him.
The moon is the only natural satellite of the earth and it follows with synchronous rotation; in other words, it always shows the same face. The moon is chained to the earth and cursed with publicly casting one emotion. Perhaps the moon sometimes hides behind branches and brush for that reason, so it might show something else that can be confused with the stick expressions of the trees. So when you are walking alone for the first time (and every other time) to the bus stop, maybe the moon is always there and does an extra stellar job of hiding, whenever you look back, because it cannot let you see him; because he wouldn’t humiliate you like all the parents who religiously walk their kids to the bus stop every morning, who have adopted the jaded, twisted history of asserting that we should all revolve like helicopters around our children, the earth, and the sun.
In the daylight, we remember all the things that we push toward the darkness; you see commercials of families on their way to Disneyland, driving convertibles into the sun (and with all that sunshine and laughter, you doubt that anyone’s actually watching the road or the wheel…). You see fathers at the beach throwing meaningless balls or Frisbees at their children; and you know that the only reason why you find them meaningless is because you don’t understand what it’s like to have a stupid Frisbee thing thrown at you. Our perceptions are only products of everything we think we’ve seen from distant airwaves; our satellite memories are revolving, broken, black-and-white commercials, and everything around us is set up to divert our attention from all the things that are directly behind or in front of us. By the end of the day, you’re just watching the world revolve upon its starry, sorry, storied stage… and writing naïve stories, like a child in the dark sewing scraps of his grandma’s blankets over his eyes to explain all the things he wish he understood from beyond a single, concentrated spotlight.
But in the dark, you can imagine that maybe the moon was watching you all along, and you just didn’t notice. Maybe you never paid attention, until one day, you grow up and see this golden crescent thing propped up in the sky, and you can’t help but hope or wonder if this is your second chance… and if that butter-golden, crescent thing is like some distant side angle of a smile or a Frisbee you’ve never seen before. Or it’s his giant thumbnail… ‘cause he’s sitting across the universe from you, still watching you and waiting and patiently flashing you a thumbs-up… ‘cause you just couldn’t fall asleep tonight… ‘cause you‘re going to notice him this time… ‘cause you’ve been practicing paying attention, and you’re going to climb up and reel him in this time. You’ll never take any unseen moment for granted again. Maybe he baked you one of those rolled-up cans of biscuit, ‘cause that’s all he knew or could do. It’s just his special, albeit odd, way of telling you simply and directly this time, that everything-- is just for you.