A Song to the Moon

With apologies to Dvořák.

Photo by Kaspar Allenbach on Unsplash

I wanted to write something beautiful.

Not to charm or to persuade. Not in the hope it might make you like me better. I wanted to do it simply to do it, a response called out of me by the view from the window and the clear skies of the world. As natural as a reflection on a still pool of water. As natural as the sunlight fading on the silver skin of the puddle in my driveway.

Because the only true happiness I’ve found in this world comes from a full and unquestioning appreciation of these things. Seeing with the heart instead of the mind. Experiencing, for an instant that may as well be forever, the silver strands that flow from the world to me and back again.

I wanted to write something beautiful.

But nothing I could write would be as beautiful as the graceful arc of the moon rising above that ragged bar of cloud. Nothing I could say would shine like the snow on the mountains, neon pink in the last rays of the failing sun.

We feel as though these things move, as though we stand still in the center of their circling orbits, even though we know that’s not true. Keats said that truth is beauty and beauty truth, but he died of consumption and bad reviews.

I wanted to write something beautiful.

But beauty comes from rhythm and movement, and none of this is going anywhere. Even the mountains are temporary. Even the moon. And compared to them, we are gone in the blink of an eye.

Every day is a dance with nonexistence, a battle against entropy. If it lasted forever, there’d be no point in playing. The beauty of the world comes in no small part from the knowledge that day by day, we are losing it.

I wanted to write something beautiful.

But instead, I wrote something for money. Or attention. Or applause. The currency doesn’t matter. The impulse is the same.

I was too long hungry at too young an age ever to be able to shake that last trickle of fear, the dregs at the bottom of the bottle. I know now that I’m never going to end up on the street, the way my teachers used to threaten I would if I didn’t do as they said. I’m infinitely lucky not to have the cracks and scars in my psyche that lead to the shelter or the dark space under the bridge. I’ve come close enough to know that.

I’ve peered in to the shadow long enough to know it has nothing left to teach me. Now, in the second half of my life, I’d much rather talk about the light.

I wanted to write something beautiful because it had been a long time.

I wanted to write like I used to, the same way a kid draws on a scrap of torn paper, just for the joy of creation. Not for anyone else. Not for recognition or for praise. Simply for the fun of it.

Because still, somehow, this is one of my favorite things to do. There’s no quicker way to kill love than to monetize it, and yet I still love this. Even when it doesn’t look like it. Even when nothing works, when the words don’t come, when every word I can find is vapid and pale.

Do something for long enough, and it becomes who you are. I’m just glad it was this and not something worse.

I want to write something beautiful.

Because all the world is beautiful, but we don’t always see it. The stars are just beacons we can use to cross the oceans, and the translucent sky swarms with satellites.

We are practical creatures. That which we love, we want to own. And resourceful as we are, we’ll find a way to do it. This is not that. This is useless. I wanted to create something that exists for its own sake, that lives the way we all do, for no other reason than existence itself.

I wanted to write something beautiful.

But what we want rarely matters. The words come out the way they do. The mountains are often hidden by clouds, and you can’t see the moon when it rains. And it rains a lot.

But if we walked in beauty every night, we wouldn’t see it. It would be too close and too frequent for us to love. And unending twilight would be a misery.

So I’m glad that the words came out imperfect and that the moon has now gone on its way. Otherwise, what would I do tomorrow?

Written by

Novelist. Essayist. Former entomologist. Now a full-time writer exploring travel, art, philosophy, psychology, and science. www.ryanfrawley.com

Novelist. Essayist. Former entomologist. Now a full-time writer exploring travel, art, philosophy, psychology, and science. www.ryanfrawley.com

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