Those were the days.
Last year, the longest day in the calendar year was also the night of the full moon. Strawberry Moon is the name given to such a rare occurrence. The last time that happened was 42 years prior, the night I birthed my son.
I was drunk on that crazy birthing cocktail of hormones, pain, anticipation, terror and in my case, moon and sun light streaming into the lovely English countryside bedroom where my midwife lived, where I labored, and where the sun for one disobedient night refusing to set.
In the oxygen saturated state that practitioners of natural childbirth attain as a matter of course, I could have sworn the room hosted a swarm of attending fairies who worked exquisitely alongside my very stern but superbly competent English midwife.
My son slid into the world like a baby seal without a splash or a cry, intact and perfect, as the whole mysterious universe appeared to me on that midsummer’s night, intact and perfect.
It would be naïve to say that the world was necessarily ‘better’ in those days. But it was certainly easy to feel that I was living in a magical kingdom as I gazed upon the ten toed miracle laying close by, softly swaddled in soundless sleep and gentle awakenings. I was not one whit concerned for the planet he would inherit.
It was a time, at least for me and my alternative tribe, before we learned of raising oceans, melting icecaps, burning forests and poisoned rivers. We did not know that the same solar system and planet that handed us the wonder of strawberry moons was also hurtling towards her own tipping point as she heated up, fueled by the fires we unwittingly stoked by the way we lived, traveled and warmed.
We who bayed at the moon and kissed the ground, believed consciousness would bring both inner and world peace. We who meditated for all those who did not, wore our hearts on our sleeves, knowing they were after all organs to be shared.
We who loved fiercely and freely, sure the party would never end, that pleasure given was pleasure gained, that love was transformative and sufficient, we had no idea that the planet itself would ever be in question. We orange clad ashram dwellers and revelers did not have the capacity to imagine that the same passion and light we so venerated and sought to maximize might ever obscure our vision rather than enhance it. We could not foresee the natural and unnatural forces causing our dreams to be dashed, we didn’t have much curiosity or care about the future. We were the forefront of the now cult.
In the blush of our mid-summer selves, we did not know that every day after would be darker, pointing to lights diminishment and summer’s end. We just may have been the last generation to assume as a matter of course that everything would keep getting better, better all the time?
The other day, my hubby and I were at this pristine beach, mourning the lost generation of star fish, decimated by a bacteria which was flourishing in the warming waters. A dear doctor friend, who had seen more AIDS deaths in Africa than most of us could even fathom made this memorable comment: “I used to worry for my grandchildren, now I worry for us too”. Hard to realize on that balmy midsummers morning that both environmentally and politically, our futures are less certain now.
One of the questions that arises (at least metaphorically) for me, is whether we still get to dance under our mid-summers moon, like those who danced on while the Titanic was sinking, or do we use the extra light of the longest day to store firewood, shore up the bank account, or the gold under the mattress, the food supplies for dark times that may be up ahead? Do we live this moment while the lights still shine or do we just buckle down to prepare and work to prevent them ever going out?
Personally, I’d say we do both, dance to celebrate that we are still here to enjoy yet another mid-summer, and prepare for the winter yet to come, for ourselves and our beloveds, and to support the ones who are doing the actual work of transformation that is needed for the viable future of our planet, knowing full well that we do not know what will befall us all, nor how things will unfold, nor what life may ask of us to contribute or endure.
How could I ever have known that the son I birthed that night would grow to be a sustainability champion as are many of his peers, champions of the new world, as we were in our time. We were committed to the expansion of a world view that included the mysterious and the pulse hidden beneath formal niceties and constricting norms.
We bust through the ceiling of the social sexual normal. This was the legacy we unwitting gave the next generation, showing that you can move outside of the constraints of confining mores mainstream society leans on, you can survive and change the way a whole culture thinks about things. We now have same sex marriage, LGBT community forums and advocacy, more acceptance of sexual exploration, more access to birth control (for now, at least) and increasingly, we have assisted dignified dying.
The next generation and the one thereafter seem to be willing to roll up their sleeves to work in the darker times of dis-illusion and planetary die off. They are the hope and light of our mid-summer’s night. We get to stand in the wings with supporting but essential roles, offering whatever lessons we may have accumulated, whatever financial resources we are able and willing to share, and lend our sturdy hearts to the possibility of creating collaborative solutions to the enormous problems of this time and age.
So to my fellow dancers, baby boomers, hippies, flower children, sannyasins, acid dropping and truth seeking guru worshiping friends, I salute you and the brightly lit times we lived and loved together. We were a wild, blessed, brave and privileged bunch.
May our seasoned voices still resonate with the wisdom of experience, may our arrogance be tempered by the humility of our failures, may our older bodies still pulse with sense and sway to compelling rhythms, and may we always take solace and pride in the next generation and support them in their mid-summers dance of hope and action.
my son, who knows of such things tells me
of good work being done every place, all
over the place. how we can recycle butts
from cigarettes, turn them into something new,
something useful, cause first time round they
were no good, except to line lungs with tar.
and pockets with cash.
now we can use trash to make gas
use earth’s warm belly to heat
homes, the sun and water to bring us light
and the wind that rattles our bones can now
fuel our dreams. i ask him if he is scared for
the future, he says “the only ones scared are
those not working to make it better
we don’t have time to be scared”.