Under a Traveling Moon (Essay on Independence, Beauty, and Stars)
Colorado Plains at Night
The milk from the Greek goddess' breast pours out over the sky - a bite from a mythic, vicious child turned to something beatiful. The droplets have hardened into stars, arching like a gateway to some long-lost ambition. I walk and I walk, yet the entrance stays as far off as ever. What would it be like to enter that gateway, and see through to the other side? Would I see the characters that starred in the myth? Would I see God?
But I am earthbound, and the late summertime gravel road stretches, grey, into shadows a few yards ahead. Clouds to the north obscure the horizon, and move slowly, like a herd of cattle, to cover the Milky Way and the moon. The wind freshens, kicking up scents of corn silk and dust, of horse sweat and sage. They mix with a prickling sensation in my sinuses, and I feel myself nudged from behind by the breeze. I turn to face it, knowing that now the moon is hidden...my sense of travel is momentarily allayed, as the moon often says to me, "Onward, go," beckoning eagerly.
I wonder if this openness, this plain with the moon urging, "Go!" above it, was what pushed pioneers west past the river, then the mountains...was what pushed Columbus west past the ocean. Perhaps he kept on, in the face of starvation and misery and nothingness, because he knew the moon would not say "Go!" to someplace hopeless.
I myself am convinced I am not going to anyplace hopelss, though I don't as yet know what arrival looks like. I have promises of obscure events, made by friends and God, which wind deep into my psyche like taproots, where they drink from thoughts too deep to surface readily. These thoughts are the kind I must dig to get at, and sometimes I feel my diligence flagging. I have much in myself to deal with - things which would damage the taproot promises like an unwary shovel cut - if I plan to arrive anywhere near where I think I should.
Still, if a night as wide and clear as this did urge on Columbus, then God bless it, because now I can share it. This wideness as great as the biggest freedom is my succour, my sounding board, and helps my soul to believe in things big enough only my God could manage. Without it, I feel crushed and jostled, lost in a crowd of mere potential.
Song Lyrics: Night in Wyoming
If you never left this place, you might believe the world was dust, and wind, and sky. The days so hard, no one save your mother doesn't drink, and you don't ask why. ...
Then you button your shirt, standing in the red dirt, beside the barn, watching the stars. It's night in Wyoming, and this is where the world starts.
- unknown writer (if you know, please comment below)
A friend recently called my plain's wideness "brown and desolate". I couldn't argue with his perspective, but only because he didn't know how to look closely enough to see what was right before him, just beyond his thoughts. Maybe he was waiting for something beautiful to materialize out of the air, and had yet to understand that here, things must be searched for. The plains don't yeild easy thoughts any more readily than they yeild fruit trees. But they will give you a profusion of six-inch wild flowers for the taking, and thoughts with the potential of a whole universe. They are a low world of birds and mysteries, of secrets over which the unitiated are likely to trample. They are a place of wonderful risks and plans, possibly of hopes dashed to the ground, only to be taken up and mended. It is a place which makes strength, if you let it.
My farming family for four generations back has found strength to persevere in this land, under nights such as this one. We have walked under the stars to solace ourselves with the thought that others have gone on, and triumphed, and that with tomorrow will come a way to begin anew for us, too, no matter if the symptoms of dreams fail like withered crops. The wind may blow away our aspirations, just like the sand from the pasture, but the night always brings a message to try again.
My hopes grow like cutworms in corn. The clouds blow in fresh thoughts, and I feel a rain drop. As I extend my arms to feel them, I hear them spatter against the fields. They pockmark the ground, leaving it scarred like a disease might a face, because there proves not enough of them to make it smooth, to gladden it. Still, it is a beginning. The hours may bring more.
And now the moon glides back, shedding clouds, which wander away wordlessly.
I turn south and home again. I'll let my brain sort out in dreams my inspiration to go forth into tomorrow.