Howl

Welcome to my secret spot. Calm, huh? Nope, you won’t see or hear anyone else here all night, save for a few lovers holding hands, the occasional runner and various sundry other creatures of the night eschewing pool halls, honky-tonks, and racket for places like this.

I normally don’t share my secret spot with other humans, but you being you and me being me and times being what they are (loud), and with contemplative autumn on the horizon, it seems like a public service announcement that gives folks permission to find a quiet place in the city where you can go after midnight and be connected to something bigger than yourself might be in order.

Like it? I love it. I’m drawn to it, physically. The moon, I mean. Tons of data exists on the torrents and tides of the earth and the moon and all her mystical season-of-the-witch powers, but what I mean is I’m drawn to a spot on the map where no one is yelling.

No one is talking about what chatterer-for-a-living best reflects their political opinion or personal philosophy; no loudmouths, racists, moralists, preachers, gurus, experts, hustle, bustle.

Just you.

And the moon.

Best bet of the weekend, hottest pick of the new fall season, brightest of the brightest new old stars. Commercial-free. Uninterrupted conversation. The moon. Soon to be known as — yom yom yom — “the harvest moon.”

This is not escape, this is reality. A reality as valid as the freakfest happening on your local-national-international news ticker: You can actually go outside after dark, look at the moon and learn something about the human condition that you cannot learn from the body counts and lowest common denominator parade. What’s more, my research tells me that the moon (full or crescent, breathtaking or merely beautiful) since ancient times has been the ultimate manifestation of female, which explains why dogs and dudes howl at the moon with similar ferocity these nights.

I was talking about all this with my friend John Jindra the other night at Kings. John is a composer-musician who studies organized religion at the University of Minnesota and tends bar at night. I told him about my lunar lunacy and he crash-coursed me in the early parable of Adam’s rib, in which ancient gods ripped a piece of the earth out of itself, tossed it into the sky, and called it the moon.

Which reminds me of an idea I heard years ago, about how when we’re born, the doctor’s spank is God’s kiss, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to get back to that kiss, that life source, through people, experiences, music, art, hallowed grounds. A couple weekends ago around a beach campfire I howled with my teenage nephews and nieces, and it was a howling not out of bestial desire or painful memories, but a crying out after a primal piece of us that’s missing.

All I’m saying is that the moon will be here tonight and tomorrow whether you or I or any of the rest of the clatter is. You and I could lose every last remaining shred of faith in humanity that we have, and still the moon’s dim light would shine and provide an all-access go-to beacon of sanity, wisdom, grace, mystery and retreat.  

All I’m saying is that if you’re like me and you stare at the moon long enough, at the very least your pulse will slow, your thoughts will clear, your perspective will replenish and you will have memorable arguments and conversations with yourself, dead people, living people and the louder-than-bombs crickets that screech their harmonic convergence swan songs all these last hot September nights.  

All I’m saying is that if you make your way over to your neighborhood lake, cross the railroad tracks and take the time to crane your neck and look long and hard at the moon, you might come away changed in ways that you might not be able to name, and I don’t think you can say that about very many things these days.

Jim Walsh lives and grew up in East Harriet.