Big week for the moon huh? I took a peek here on the East coast, so it was a little less impressive, but I still felt that kinship I feel with that flying ball of rock, a kinship I’ve felt since my run.
As most of you have heard me bitch and moan, the first two weeks of last year’s run were downright awful. So awful that I still haven’t had the emotional courage to mentally return to them. Over six months later, those memories are still too raw to touch, let alone begin to process. Except for my memories of the moon. I remember arriving in Texas on day 44 for a rest day. My driver and I were staying on a little ranch with two amazing people, a cranky cat, and a half pet/half wild rabbit. We took a sunset tour of the place and arrived back to the homestead as the moon was rising. This was my first moon sighting since my exodus out of the great southwestern desert, and I remember smiling. I may have even winked at the thing – go ahead and judge the corny cliché.
I know I know, everyone loves the moon. Hippies form drum circles and perform rituals to the moon. There are 1000s of poems, memes, and quotes about the moon – justifiably so. It’s the very thing that drives the tides. It moves entire oceans, it deserves a little attention. It’s romantic and powerful, and people love it.
But they didn’t have my relationship with the moon. They never begged it to stay, thinking it was the only thing to keep you sane and safe (literally, the desert is very dark and I always forgot fresh batteries). They never begged it to go away because they knew they could stop moving when brother sun appeared. The moon has never watched them cry loudly, then quietly, even silently. It never comforted them like it comforted me. The moon got me through that hell of a wasteland, a phrase that accurately describes both the desert and my mental state. The moon has never loved anyone else like that.
Except that’s nonsense. The moon isn’t a person. It’s not capable of love. Frankly it gives zero fucks about the pain and suffering of me or anyone else.
It is like the mountains in that regard. I remember trading the desert for mountains out of Phoenix, frustrated, cursing everything from the Louisiana purchase to gravity, but mostly cursing the mountains. There’s a reason that mountains are used to describe struggle. I’d pretend they were great test sent by the universe. They just wanted to see if I could earn my place among the mountain people, the trail runners, the dirt bags. I convinced myself that this was an elaborate initiation rite, at the end of which I’d look back and the mountains would whisper “Welcome, we knew you could do it all along.” Like a granite sensei. Again, the mountains don’t care. They aren’t the keepers of the initiation rite. They could care less if you make it or not. They neither spur your success nor cause your failure. In fact they are scientifically incapable of caring.
Still I get comfort from the moon, and the mountains. Maybe because the moon is my link to that painful time, a time that I can yet return. Maybe because it was my greatest source of comfort and consistency during that time. Like the sun, the moon was the way to mark time but without the searing heat dehydration, and subsequent rash that looked suspiciously like greyscale. Maybe they aren’t the keepers of the elusive club of transcendental, mellowed out sages. Maybe the tests aren’t in the mountains rising from the ground or the magnetic power from the sky, maybe they’re in my head. The mountains and the moon, they’re there for whatever lesson I choose to learn. They’re not what’s testing me, they’re for whatever gets me through the night.
 The absence of either would have made a transcontinental run much easier.