A decade or so back, during a strange and difficult time, I paid a visit to a therapist who came well-recommended by friends. While I remember very little of the session a single line from our conversation has haunted me for years. “You’re like the moon, and you need to be like the sun!” His voice carried both urgency and what struck me as exasperation, and at the time, it left me reeling, baffled, and not a little chastened.
You need to be like the sun. What was he talking about? It was all that I could do at the time simply to keep afloat.
I left the office feeling overwhelmed. I never went back. Still, the fiercely spoken words somehow stayed with me. Over time, they came to serve as a sort of koan in times of distress and doubt. Over time, I began to listen, to ask what they have to teach me.
The moon takes on reflected light. The sun gives out its own. That was the first and most obvious association. Often the image rises up as I ponder a relationship, especially as I make (not always successful) efforts to choose more wisely. What am I hoping to draw from another that I might become the source of? And this becoming-the-source-of, how might, I go about that?
I’ve been in a bit of a slump during the past week, hard to say exactly why. There are reasons — there are always reasons — but sometimes they fade to the background, while at others (now for example), they take center stage. Maybe it’s the heat wave of the past few days. Or coming to the end of a big project, with space opening up on the other side, yet to be filled. Maybe it’s the fact that I need to move house and have yet to figure out where. Maybe it’s a certain kind of aloneness that’s been weighing on me lately, coupled with a sadness around several friendships apparently on the wane. Most likely it’s a combination of these things and likely others too.
You’re like the moon, and you need to be like the sun. Yes, it’s about giving off light but also, I find myself thinking now, about occupying the center, not revolving around. I’m at the center of my own life. The sun is at the center.
© 2012, amy gutman. All rights reserved.