Moonlit wordlessness

I used to be afraid of the dark.  Once my brother went off to college and it was my job to bring the garbage cans up the driveway to the street, I would drag them up at top speed, then turn and sprint back to the safety the inside of the house. What was I afraid of?  Goblins?  Witches?  Some kind of supernatural evil?  Who knows, but I'll never forget the one time it was pitch black and raining and I was running so fast with those trash cans that I almost ran straight into Mr. Heath and his little dog, out for a walk in their matching slickers.  I think we both scared each other a little, but he certainly was no warlock.

Somewhere along the way, I lost my fear of the dark.  I spent more time walking around in the woods at night and found out that nothing really changed except it was quiet and you couldn't see as much, and sometimes the sounds were different.

And some time after that, I grew to really enjoy walking in the woods in the dark, especially when the moon is out.  There's something so amazing about seeing your shadow created by pure moonlight.

If you haven't yet tried a nighttime wordless walk, this weekend is a great opportunity.  The moon will be close to full.  Go to a place where you feel safe.  Bring friends. Find a picturesque location to watch the sun set and the moon rise, preferably away from artificial lights.  Still your mind and just breathe and listen and be.  Stay long enough for it to get really dark so you can see your shadow by the moonlight. Marvel.

And if you're in the New Orleans area, you can join me this Sunday at 6 p.m. at Jean Lafitte for a sunset/moonrise wordless walk.  We'll meet at the Bayou Coquille parking area, and you can email me at if you have any questions.  No matter where you are, if you haven't tried nighttime wordlessness, give it a try and tell me what happens!

Creating our reality: A moon story

Our minds are very powerful.  They are experts at providing us whatever evidence we need to believe the thoughts we have.  And here's a story about one of my favorite examples of this spectacular capability. Back when I was a teacher, when I would begin a unit on the moon with my eighth graders, inevitably a good portion of them would insist that the moon is never out during the day.  These were not sheltered children.  They were kids who went camping with their families, played soccer, took vacations to exotic locales.

But in their minds, the moon was out at night.  They'd gathered lots of evidence to support this thought, from Goodnight Moon to werewolf movies.  And when they saw the moon at night, their mind stored that image as more proof that the moon is, indeed, out at night.

So why did they not notice the moon out during the day, like in the photo above?  Statistically, the moon is out during the day just as much as it's out at night.  So what happened?  How could they miss something so gigantic and obvious?

Well, they had no thought to support that evidence.  So they didn't even see it.  Until I walked them out of the classroom to look up at a blue sky with a white moon.  Even then, some students could not fathom that it was the moon.  "That's the sun!", they said.  It took a lot more evidence mixed in with compassion and patience for them to form the thought, "The moon is sometimes visible during the day", and then they could begin gathering the evidence to back up their new thought.

We so want to trust our mind.  It seems so smart, so capable.  It stores so much information for us.  But it can't hold evidence for thoughts we don't have.  And it's great at holding evidence for thoughts we do have, even if -- perhaps especially if-- those thoughts are negative.  Hey-- it's just trying to protect us--  to keep us safe -- so we don't get too big for our britches or dream too big.  It's so good at remembering all the reasons why we can't do this or that - even ones that date back to something someone said to us in second grade.

So what do we do?  We make new thoughts, so we can provide the space for new evidence - for all the good stuff we might be missing - stuff as big as the moon!