December has brought with it much contrast, both in nature and events. We’ve had clear, bright skies followed by dreary, drab gray days; warm, still times followed by bitter cold, windy days; and the vivid, full supermoon on December 3, followed by cloudy night skies that obscured the stars. These contrasts have brought some challenges to my running and biking routines, forcing me to get a little creative in order to enjoy my time alone in nature.
The full moon on Sunday was also a supermoon, a more modern name for a perigee full moon or a perigee new moon. Perigee is from the 16th century peri- (around) and ge (earth), and is defined as the point in the orbit of the moon or a satellite that is closest to the center of the earth. The term supermoon is credited to Richard Nolle, and came into existence about 30 years ago.
Supermoon is viewed to be a more trendy term, hence the popularity over perigee. Though both words describe the same event, contrast exists in society’s views of the words and their meanings.
Like everything in life, perigee has an opposite. The opposite of perigee is apogee, or the point in the orbit of the moon or a satellite that is farthest away from the earth. The modern term for an apogee moon is a micromoon. Micromoons appear smaller in size due to their farther distance from the earth. They also do not receive as much hype in the media as supermoons, possibly due to their more frequent occurrence.
Contrast in Perspective
As I thought about the supermoon on Sunday and other full moons of the past year, I found myself wondering why we pay more attention to certain things in life than others. While popularity seems an obvious answer, I think our backgrounds, education levels, and our surroundings often influence our perspective.
While it is good to have and appreciate different perspectives, we need to be careful not to get lost in the contrasting views. We don’t have to agree or disagree with everything we see and hear, and we don’t necessarily have to “choose sides” in order to continue upon our journey.
Influence of Wisdom
At one point this week, I found myself pedaling my bike in the middle of a downpour. The rain pelted me like a wall of water. The 8-year old mind in me thought: This is the most miserable bike ride I have ever had. Why am I out here getting soaked below the skies growing darker by the second?
As soon as that thought passed, the more mature 43-year old mind in me responded: It may be miserable, but considering it is December, and in a traditional year, the weather would not permit you to ride a bicycle. Given the weather, no one else is out here. It is just you and God . You can choose to be miserable, or you can be thankful for this experience.
Both thoughts had merit and truth to them, though they contrasted each other. Part of me found peace in recognizing the importance of these thoughts, as well as the water now streaming down my spine as I pedaled fiercely to get back home. Though the rain water now felt cold, it washed away the stress felt earlier in the day.
The lesson I learned is you don’t necessarily have to be comfortable in order to find some peace in life. In fact, sometimes you have to feel miserable in order to recognize peace that may be staring you in the face. This reality made me recall a quote I read recently:
“The more faithfully you listen to the voices within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside.” – Dag Hammarkskjold
Every Way the Wind Blows
The nighttime hours following my biking experience were filled with gusting, cold winds. As the dogs and I listed to the wind, I wondered what we would find in the yard the following morning. Debris pelted the house throughout the night, making it hard to sleep.
By dawn, the winds subsided considerably. We found no major damage close to the house and watched the first rays of dawn break over the horizon in dead silence. All around, not a sound could be heard. The quiet in contrast to the noise of the wind was a welcome change, bringing a different kind of peace to the start of another day. I made a mental note of how the brightness of the sky and the lack of noise made me feel lighter, happier, and more confident about the tasks ahead of me.
Though I do enjoy listening to the wind, I also have times in life when silence is the song I wish to hear. Perhaps it has to do with being inundated by noise throughout the course of the day, or the fact that every person around me feels the need to be “plugged in” to some electronic device that beeps, rings, chimes, or plays music.
We all have times in life when we need to hear the wind in our own way. We also have times when we feel the need to retreat and remove ourselves from the noise. These times are important to our overall health and wellbeing. We may feel guilty about taking time to retreat, but we also need to remember that we are human, and as such, we have natural needs that must be tended to in order to keep moving upon our journey.
“The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running.” – Anonymous
Throughout the day after the wind storm, I found myself looking to the skies, which were a brilliant blue, almost crystal-like with passing bright white clouds. The sight was welcome after two days of solid gray clouds. The contrast in the skies brought a change to my mindset and some progress in solving some problems both at work and at home. The experience made me recognize the importance recognizing one’s surroundings and how to use what is around you to the best of your ability.
The sunset that night was amazingly beautiful, radiating from a crimson core that reflected neon light off of the clouds. As the clouds move off into the distance, the light turned orange and golden, making the twilight sky much brighter than normal for this time of year. I took full advantage of the extended light, running, biking, and staying outside with the dogs until the very last rays dropped from the sky.
Afterward, I contemplated all the places I have been in life and how experiencing many different colored skies has helped me to build character and faith. Though I am still a work in progress, I can see how little changes made years ago have led to brighter, better days. Perhaps the following quote best illustrates this point:
“The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.” – John Dewey
4:54 –vs- 8:55
Sunset in my area has been stuck at 4:54 PM since December 2, and will remain at this time for a few more days. This is the earliest time the sun can set in my area, and though I dread the early darkness, I look forward to when sunset moves to 4:55, then 4:56, then 4:57, and all the way through winter and into summer’s peak sunset time of 8:55 PM.
The peak summer sunset time also sticks around for days, which I don’t mind because it allows me to be outside in the yard longer. Conversely, the early sunset often drives the dogs and me inside, which can be fun, but not as fun as being outside. Once again, this contrast of time and light illustrates how our perspectives are affected and influenced by our surroundings.
May the contrasts we find in life allow us to gain wisdom and perspective, as well as build stamina and strength for our journey. May what we see and do help us to build character and faith upon the way, and may sharing our experiences with others allow us to overcome obstacles found in life’s contrasts.
On, over, around, and back,
To contemplate and reflect
Round about in time’s escape
As the sun rises and then fades
So within life does one see
Today, yesterday, tomorrow, and all points inbetween.
Over the landscape past
New sights to see
Through time’s seas
Rolling, rolling on
As the sun wakes the dawn
Soaked in the light
That makes the truth known in life.
Orange, red, and yellow cast
Next to blue, purple, and green
To create the sunset beneath
Rain and snow clouds
As the seasons change in and out
Scattering the sun, moon, and stars
Through the heavens afar.
-Lisa A. Wisniewski