Saturday, October 23, 2010

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

I stepped outside for awhile last evening and stood in the back yard. The light from the full moon was casting a cool, almost blue glow over the road that leads to the cabin and I started thinking about indigenous people and how they found meaning to their lives, there among the stars, the moon and its companions. I was thinking particularly of Polynesian navigators. They found their way, often across thousands of miles of ocean, using only the motion of the stars, the ocean currents and wave patterns, the flight of birds, the wind and the waves to guide them. That, and their finely honed intuition.

When you live intimately with nature, one can learn to navigate through life using the universe itself as guidance, often arriving at that place where conscious reasoning, and even knowledge passed down from generation to generation, gives way to that finer form of guidance. It's a form of guidance that has always been available to us, but, instead of sharpening our senses, we have allowed ourselves to fall into a sort of cultural stupor.

What if we didn't allow culture - magazines and books and all things flat-screened - to inform us, to tell us how we're supposed to feel, what we're supposed to think, even what direction our lives should take, literally and figuratively? What would that feel like? Look like? It's an insidious thing, this thing called culture, and we fall prey to it without even being consciously aware that it's happened. I'm not outside the boundaries of this phenomenon myself, obviously, but I am trying to understand it and step back often enough and long enough to imagine life without these contraptions, and they are contraptions. I'm sitting here, writing this on my computer, deeply appreciating the fact that I can communicate instantaneously with friends on the other side of the globe. So, am I giving this up any time soon? Not likely. Can I give up television? Perhaps. But, I would miss Sheldon and the boys. I wonder what they would think of my desire to develop my inner Polynesian navigator? I can hear Sheldon saying again, "I'm a physicist, not a hippie!"

The first time I recall hearing of Polynesian navigators was about a dozen or so years ago. I was participating in a group that discussed metaphysical and spiritual topics. There was a couple, probably in their eighties, that came to these meetings, and I was taken with how fully engaged they were with life, all the phenomena and possibilities they still wanted to explore. He mentioned one evening that he'd had a very vivid dream in which he was in a boat, moving through the night by the light of the moon and the stars, very aware that he was with, or was himself, one of these navigators. I found the topic intriguing, both from the standpoint of what our dreams can tell us about ourselves and with the notion of navigating in this way. It has stayed with me, and I look at it occasionally as a personal checkpoint: where am I in the process of learning to be a better listener, a better reader of the world around me?

What if we all learned to move through life like Polynesian navigators? Finding our way by watching the patterns in nature, listening to our inner selves, guidance that is always present. To let the world, the natural world, settle in around us, inform and enlighten us, keep us apprised of all that truly matters. To learn the lessons life offers inside a leaf, the stars, the water, the moon. To stand outside in the dark long enough to let go of any fear and learn to listen, to feel at a deeper level, to trust our instincts. To allow ourselves to be guided by the primordial intelligence of the universe, to trust it, knowing that it will always bring us to a place of peace and deep contentment.

What if?

As I write this, the moon just went down in the western sky. I hope I'm making even some small measure of progress.

The image is an early illustration by Edward Hopper, "Boy and Moon."


  1. You have given me lots of good thoughts to think about here Teresa. It would be interesting to see how long a person could go without reading/ watching/ listening to any other media control our lives and our thoughts, but then, how do we communicate with anyone outside our immediate area? Without a computer. I don't know. Perhaps we just take little bits of a time and always make sure we question whether we are paying attention to our own heart and soul rather then through what we have learned from others.

    Excellent post Teresa!
    xo Catherine

  2. This is a wonderful post. I like how you draw a comparison between an all encompassing perspective, finely tuned with nature, and our flat screened culture.

  3. You say, "What if we all learned to move through life like Polynesian navigators? Finding our way by watching the patterns in nature, listening to our inner selves, guidance that is always present. To let the world, the natural world, settle in around us, inform and enlighten us, keep us apprised of all that truly matters."

    And all I can think is that you're already doing this. But, yes, what if we all did it. Somehow I have to believe that even pondering the concept is somehow healing the world.

  4. Lovely post, Teresa! I agree with Kristy that 'even pondering the concept is somehow healing the world.' I also remind myself that the very act of wanting unleashes a certain negativity, all very Asian but I picked up that thinking from living there.

  5. The collection of letters to comment above spelled TRIAL...interesting...

  6. I was talking today with a woman who leads silent retreats. She said attendees ponder similar things.

  7. Of all the people I know, or sort of know, you are living closest to the heart of nature. I try in small ways...walk on grass when possible instead of on concrete, pause, observe. I'm living in a city, surrounded by stuff that isn't nature, but always trying to be attuned to how much nature survives here. More important: I love the fact that you like Sheldon et al!

  8. Teresa...this is a wonderful post. Your words sing and you always come up with amazing thoughts! luv it!

  9. So interesting to read your post about the Polynesian navigators as that is exactly how the Maori people came to NZ, so many hundreds of years before European settlement.
    I think the best I can do is to learn to listen to the seasons; this year I have been aware of so much more by really seeing rather than just looking.

  10. Catherine, I feel that is exactly it: learn to listen to our own guidance rather than allow ourselves to be unduly influenced by what others might have us believe. Exactly. Thank you for your comments.

    Paul. Thank you ever so much!

    Kristy and Kittie, I agree. It's where we take our thoughts that matters, Very much. Thank You! And yes, WV can be very interesting.

    Linda, I trust your dinner companions are learning from you wise counsel... :)

    Nancy, Every thing counts, especially the small day-to-day opportunities to really See. Yep, I Love that little group of nerds.

    Lynne, Thank you, so much!

    Marilyn, I was thinking of you, and Joan, as I wrote this. It is all about Seeing, rather than just looking and I have to remind myself often. It's an ongoing practice. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  11. You are a navigator in our modern world, Teresa. You bring us so much insight and joy with your thoughts about life. You navigate in this fantastic communication-system and reach us in all parts of the globe in a second.
    I live in the outskirts of the city , where nature is close with forest and sea. What I miss is the thousand of stars in the night sky out in the dark countryside. In the city most stars hide behind the city lights. But right now I can see the full moon outside my window. And it is a Blue Moon tonight.
    Thank you for this wonderful post.
    Grethe ´)

  12. Dear Grethe, I cannot adequately thank you for your very generous comments. I love knowing that we have this wonderful communication throughout the world. Our "visits" make me feel a part of something larger, something that matters. I hope you're sleeping well, under the light of that silvery moon.

    Thank you, so much, for your comments.

  13. Sorry to be so late to your post but I hung with my Granddaughter again and we ran errands, bathed the car and Cody, cooked and ate fun food. I've been interested in astrology and astronomy since I was young. My first astrology teacher was Ivy Goldstein Jacobson who taught it as the original way you actually looked at the stars. Back then, I had to mail my lessons to her and wait for her reply. Her reply's always seemed to take forever so I really am thankful that I lived long enough to find friends and fast answers on the computer.
    I like your phrase..... cultural stupor. I guess I know a lot of people who have fallen into that. Interesting post (again).
    Good week coming.

  14. Hi Manzanita! I'm glad you had a good weekend with your granddaughter. It sounds nice,especially the part about cooking and eating fun food. :) I look forward to the coming week!

  15. Such a thought provoking post. Cultural stupor is exactly what we've got on our hands.

    Just yesterday I witnessed a bitter exchange between two people on a "social network" (for all the world to see). It was quite unsettling.

    I thought back to the time when we didn't have computers or cell phones. We were living in Kansas and life was so much simpler. I remember thinking one day that the newspaper was such a harbinger of bad news that maybe I didn't want to read it anymore!

    I think I'll go outside and sit by the lake for awhile. Communing with nature is often the best therapy.

    On second thought, it's drizzly and chilly, this morning. I'll sit on the porch. :-)

  16. The porch is a fine place to just sit and Be. Nature does provide the best therapy.

    Social networks make me feel Less connected. I left Face Book a couple of weeks ago. We are quickly becoming a nation of disconnected people who live in an almost virtual reality, the stuff sci-fi was once made of.

    Thanks for taking the time to read my latest posts and comment, Cheryl. I appreciate it.

  17. i find it so curious, but just yesterday i was thinking about the oppressive hand the media culture has on us. it defines us and we struggle to fit into its shallow description. and the fast-ness of life: i see people typing away a 2-line facebook hello to sixty different people whenever reception is restored when the train comes up from underground here in nyc. i'm not judging, right{?}, we all do it. you're right, we get to use these handy computers to log our thoughts so our virtualfriends can know us differently, deeper--so we can share with them. but teresa, can we ever just sit still? can we just stare at that big ole moon --and that's all. just sit and stare and feel the bliss of being still. i am trying.

    thanks for this post--so in-line with my thoughts--though i'm not surprised. i appreciate you.

  18. I love your "Jack Handy" posts. Such a deep thinker you are! Yesterday, I actually turned off the huge flat screen for the afternoon. It was nice to be able to think without that incessant noise in the background. It did clear my head a little.

    While we have every means at our disposal these days to connect with one another, I've never felt so disconnected. Funny how that happened. Maybe it's just me. :/

    There's almost too much information with internet, TV and Twitter. I long for the days when I was a little more ignorant, laughing at Archie Bunker's bigotry and saying good night to the Walton family. But that's just me.

  19. I look forward to the mild climate here because I can sleep with the windows open and listen to the sounds of the day and night outside my window. I gave up reading the newspaper years ago and we have yet to connect up our TV. I used to have a home page for the internet, but it had the headlines, so I reset it to only my email. I'm too affected by what I see or read, so I had to curtail those items I no longer wanted.

    A few years ago a gentleman came to visit my lavender farm and I was sitting in the shade. As he walked up I said, have a seat, and he said, is it ok if I just stand here and look at the mountains, I said sure. Folks are so out of touch with nature these days, and yet there is the longing, the craving for it, I know there is. But I also think many folks may long for nature but are forced to make a living perhaps in offices, take care of their kids, do their chores and have little time left for the guidance of nature that surrounds them. So as Catherine says I hope folks can take small bits of time to stay in tuned to nature. Since I've moved I haven't spent as much time as I used to listening and feeling the nature which surrounds me and your post reminds me I have to get back into that routine as I used to be.

    Thanks for such a wonderful post. So glad to have met you virtually through your writing as I feel a kinship across the miles which I wouldn't have, had there been no computers, a conundrum there for sure.

  20. Michelle, Gail, and Linda, It takes a lot of practice, to move away from cultural restraints and into our own navigational system. Like with all gadgets, we choose to use them wisely and to spend our time in ways that encourage harmony in our thoughts. It is in this way, I believe, we can all make a difference. Small opportunities to listen and be aware grow and expand if we keep choosing them, remain open to them.

    I am very grateful for the friendships I have found here in what I lovingly refer to as Bloggerville. There is a kinship, as vital as nature.

  21. This is such a beautiful piece of writing Teresa E. I am so fortunate to know you and read your wise words. I have about given up reading newspapers. I have one delivered daily but I am very selective about what I read. I listen to the news once a day. I have subscribed to the NZ house and Garden since it began and used to pour over it when younger in a 'i'd love to have that' mind. Not anymore. I am interested how others live but more than contented with what I have. I think I am beginning to navigate my life 'by the stars' and it is a very good way to live.

  22. Hi Joan, Contentment: a fine place to be, isn't it? I, too, once loved decorating magazines. Now, I occasionally look and think, 'How can I incorporate this look in a smaller, much-less expensive way, with what I already have?' I've reduced my belongings down to the things I love and actually need. It feels good, and is actually Less restrictive.

    Thank you for your kind remarks about my writing. I am so enjoying sharing our stories.