Becoming the sun

Sun and Leaves

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.

Copyright © Amy Gutman. All rights reserved.

10 thoughts on “Becoming the sun

  1. “And if the dam breaks open many years too soon
    And if there is no room upon the hill
    And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too
    I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.”

  2. How dare anyone tell the moon she should be the sun?!!!

    It is her nature to wax and wane. She is different from the sun, and that is precisely why we need her. How should we survive the heat and glare if we did not have the wise moon to give us respite and romance? The moon has always represented the essence of womanhood.

    Was that therapist a man who thought everyone should be like him? Or perhaps like that sun he thought he should be? He didn’t mean it as a compliment, but I take “You are the moon” as a high compliment.

    The sun is one kind of strength — or maybe twenty-seven — but there are other powers. The power to return from darkness is a different kind of strength — one that the world must have to survive. The power to light the night gets us all through; it gives the darkest times their own glowing luminosity.

    The moon should be the sun? Balderdash. The moon should be the moon. We need her. We love her.

    • What a fascinating response, Penny — and also fascinating that I’ve never thought of this before, though of course, being a yoga girl, I know a lot of the moon lore.

      Perhaps the harsh dismissal was part of why I reacted as I did–leaving not to return. At the same time, I do think, harshness aside, there was something important for me in what he said. (Harshness is never helpful, though, in fairness, it did get my attention.) I hear the words as calling forth an internal self sufficiency, akin to the Buddhist exhortation to be a light unto yourself. Also, the being at the center thing, which struck me today. Ultimately, it seems to me, it’s about balance–& there are times when invoking the sun feels right and empowering to me.

  3. I absolutely understand where you stand today. I have been there and done that, as most of have. You articulated it beautifully. I also have discovered some cool tools to enhance what I do. It is about being in the question via and was brought to me to at just the perfect time. I had a huge “cracking open” last summer and had pretty much integrated it. However, I was left with an empty feeling. What next? Where do I go from here? Apparently the universe heard me :) It always does and I could receive precisely because I had no idea about what direction to go in. I listened to my guidance and continued to do what I was doing, trying to be in the moment and then my sign-dandelion seeds and the trail led to Access Consciousness (smile) If you want to know more please feel free to e-mail me or just check it out for yourself-even better!
    Go For Your Joy!

  4. As I noted on my facebook reposting, “I was deeply moved, and gently but directly re-centered, by Amy Gutman’s latest post in Plan B Nation, “Becoming the Sun” . . .” You’re a powerful source of soul-rectifying energy, Ms. Gutman.

    • Thank you so much, Peggy. This time, simply writing the post didn’t lead really put me in a different place (unlike what happened, effortlessly, with 40 ways to appreciate a kidney stone) but what *is* starting to shift things for me is the affirming sense of connection that comes from being heard–from knowing my words really landed. You’ve been a big part of that from the start–indeed from long before I launched the blog. I am so grateful for that. :-)

      • I (in my most lunar-like manner) wish to reflect your statements right back to you, Amy – you have been an inspiration to me since I met you – and I’m so pleased to be able to share your voice with others – shine on!

  5. I loved this post. It is so interesting what sticks with us—even after we recoil from it when we first hear it.

    • That is so true! I think about that a lot. So many of my posts & essays begin with seemingly random memory scraps that unfurl into much more. One of the great things about blogging is finally having a way to piece such things together. It’s also why my Twitter handle includes the descriptor “intellectual collagist.” :-)

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