First moon

by Wolf Pascoe on March 14, 2011

The most important question is, ‘Is the universe friendly?’ — attributed to Albert Einstein

Long time readers may recall a post here describing how once, in the middle of the night, I woke, went outside, and sat for a time in the dark under the magnolia tree in our front courtyard. The post was called Zen fatherhood.

I’m pleased to report that such nocturnal sitting has become a habit with me. I recommend the practice. Easy for me to say. Most days I wake before the sun anyway.

From the chair that I sit in, the sky can be seen directly over the courtyard wall. I suppose this makes it an infinite courtyard.

Sometimes I begin the day calm, sometimes anxious.Today was calm. I had had a strange dream. I was visiting a curiosity shop. It had curtains and dinosaurs. I’m not sure but I think the shop is called childhood.

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Calm I was, puzzling over that dream, when a crescent moon poked its head from behind some Magnolia branches. The shape was so pleasing and perfect that I couldn’t stop looking. I remembered the night when Nick first saw the moon.

He was a year old. We had gone out in front of the house. The moon was full.

“Nick, look up!” I said.

Puzzled stare from Nick.

“Look up!”

He followed my finger to the silvery face.

“That’s the moon!”

“Uh,” said Nick.

“See the man? There’s a man in the moon!”

“Uh!” he said.

At the time, and for some years after, that was pretty much his entire speaking vocabulary, although he understood us well enough.

He began pointing excitedly.

“Uh! Uh!”

“Yes, moon,” I said. “It runs on batteries.”

I didn’t say that.

You only get to introduce your child to the moon once. But a few days later we went somewhere in the car after dark. The moon hung outside the window on the driver’s side.

“Nora, quick, show Nick the moon again,” I said.

Nora pointed outside the window.

“See Nick. It’s the moon again.”

Nick wasn’t interested.

I stopped the car and insisted we all get out.

“See? There it is again,” I said.

I pointed at the man’s slightly truncated face. Nick was looking at the moon now. I could tell he was thinking about it.

He looked at me with a question in his eyes: You mean there’s two of them?

“Same moon,” I said. “Same same. It goes wherever you go,”

I’m not sure he was convinced, but Goodnight Moon became a favorite not long after. How many times we read that book! What did it say that was so important? What is it about the moon that we love so?

I stared long and long at that crescent this morning, because I wanted to understand. Then the simple answer came. The moon is out there. It is the universe.

And the moon is friendly.

. . .

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RELATED POSTS:

Zen Fatherhood

The Story of Language

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I WROTE THIS POST before the Japanese earthquake. The universe feels decidedly hostile today, though perhaps it’s possible to make it less so for those most affected. To learn how you can help with relief, check out this article in the Huffington Post. Or here’s how to think about relief differently.

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You might also enjoy:

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Provenance of “Is the universe friendly?” This question is generally attributed to Einstein. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any first-hand evidence that he actually said or wrote it. All of the sources I found on the Internet are heresay–none pointing to a  documented interview or letter. But he did really did say, “Many things which go under my name are badly translated from the German or are invented by other people.”

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A brief message from Apollo 8:

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Express yourself! Any thoughts about the universe? I’d love you to add your comment below. I always respond here.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara March 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm

The moon mesmerizes me – I know I’m not alone in this, but I don’t think it affects everyone the same way.
I’ve read Goodbye Moon so many times – my daughter’s favorite for a long time!

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Wolf Pascoe March 15, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Somehow, I feel my future is in outer space.

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nelson March 15, 2011 at 3:30 pm

I love the moon. And your post made me realize that I have never introduced the moon to my toddler. We live in a building and he’s always indoor at night. When we stay out late at night, he does not see the moon, coz he likes it more to look at the cars on the streets. I guess I’ll try to distract him next time so I could get him to look up and check out that shining round ball. 🙂

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Wolf Pascoe March 15, 2011 at 4:33 pm

I look forward to the report, Nelson.

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Sirena March 15, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Moon, Turn the Tides…Gently, Gently Away

So down and down and down and down
And down and down we go
Hurry my darling we mustn’t be late
For the show
Neptune champion games to an aqua
World is so very dear
Right this way smiles a mermaid
I can hear and man is full of cheer.
That man is full of cheer
I could hear that man is full of cheer
Lord thank you

Moon, Turn the Tides…Gently, Gently Away

– Jimi Hendrix

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Wolf Pascoe March 15, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that does fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Ding-dong,
Hark! Now I hear them – Ding-dong, bell.

Shakespeare, The Tempest

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Barbara March 15, 2011 at 7:22 pm

This is lovely. My grand nephew just turned one. I’ll pass this on to his parents so they know it’s time to introduce him to the moon.

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Wolf Pascoe March 16, 2011 at 6:59 am

It’s never too early.

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Sirena March 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm

DEFEATED BY LOVE

The sky was lit
by the splendor of the moon
So powerful
I fell to the ground

Your love
has made me sure

I am ready to forsake
this worldly life
and surrender to the magnificence
of your Being

-RUMI

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Wolf Pascoe March 16, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Poetry Slam! What I always wanted here!

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Amy March 17, 2011 at 12:57 am

I see the moon,
The moon sees me.
God bless the moon,
And God bless me.
— A nursery rhyme

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Wolf Pascoe March 17, 2011 at 7:21 am

I wonder what is way up high,
Way above the silent sky.
There may be moons made of green cheese,
Or silver men who float with ease.
I wonder what is way up high,
way above the silent sky.

— Wolf Pascoe, age 8

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Sirena March 17, 2011 at 11:02 am

LOVE your 8 year-old poem! If you’re REALLY good I’ll write down my 8 year-old poem about “fog” – thankfully it’s short. I think there’s an endless supply of poems about the moon….

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Wolf Pascoe March 17, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Because the moon is the universe and the moon is friendly.

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Daisy March 18, 2011 at 1:34 am

The sun descending in the west,
The evening star does shine;
The birds are silent in their nest,
And I must seek for mine.
The moon like a flower,
In heaven’s high bower,
With silent delight
Sits and smiles on the night.

–William Blake

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Wolf Pascoe March 18, 2011 at 6:40 am

Oh, my.

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