This morning I read Billy Barr’s tips for social distancing, gleaned from 50 years of experience living in an abandoned mine in the Rockies. The first one was “Keep track of something.”
Later, my friend Mark sent me a post referencing book nine of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, in which the emperor reminds himself to take the things in the world and “see them from above” in order to keep them in perspective:
You can discard most of the junk that clutters your mind — things that exist only there — and clear out space for yourself:
…by comprehending the scale of the world
…by contemplating infinite time
…by thinking of the speed with which things change — each part of every thing; the narrow space between our birth and death; the infinite time before; the equally unbounded time that follows.
And it hit me that, duh, looking at the moon checks both those boxes.
Paying attention to the moon phases gives me something to keep track of and helps me think in terms of circular time.
And seeing it up on the sky and thinking about how long it’s been up there and how many generations have looked at it always tends to throw my measly problems into perspective. (Although, I always laugh whenever I think about astronaut Michael Collins admitting he mostly never bothers to look at it.)
Here it was last night from our balcony:
Tonight’s moon will be the brightest of the year. Step outside and take a look!