It’s been nearly a week now and I’ve been thinking, writing, and dreaming about only one thing. Last Friday, I saw the moon in the afternoon and, if we’re being honest, it really threw me off.
It’s not that I’ve gone twenty-something years on this planet without knowing that the moon is sometimes visible during the day. This is one of the harsh truths of life that we have to learn without being taught. It was recess, sometime in elementary school, and I was standing by the tetherball poles, looking out above the large grass field – the one for soccer, not the one for kickball – with the playground on my left and the brick classrooms on my right. That’s my first memory of a daytime moon.
I’m not unsure about what I’m feeling. Having grown and matured as a person, I can now quickly identify emotions without needing to write an entire essay. The feeling is anger – an irrational anger, but anger, nonetheless.
I am angry because the moon should not be visible during the daytime. I do not know why I feel so strongly, but, as anyone who has talked to me in this past week can attest to, I do. Is the goal of this essay, then, to unpack this feeling?
Sure, why not?
I cannot explain it, but it feels wrong that the moon is visible during the day. Whenever I think about the daytime moon, there’s a hot, tight feeling inside my chest and it’s not heartburn. Some things just feel wrong – it’s such a visceral and primal feeling.
Primal feelings come from a primal place. Disgust at food gone bad, fear of snakes, and aversion to the aesthetics of Tesla’s new Cybertruck are all survival instincts baked into our evolutionary past. My hatred of the daytime moon must stem from the same place.
What is it about the daytime moon that threatens our survival? For millennia, humans have used the moon and its regular cycles for essential timekeeping. We understand the phases of the moon and can predict with near certainty the activity of the moon far into the future – at night, at least. As much as we know about the moon at nighttime, its appearance in the daytime still eludes the understanding of scientists to this day.
I consider myself a pretty smart dude, moonwise; I can tell a gibbous moon from a crescent one and I know many lunar words, like “waxing,” “waning,” and “moon.” Even an individual as learned in the ways of the natural world as me cannot understand the daytime moon.
We fear the unknown – it’s only human. Fear can manifest itself as anger and hatred – two words that describe my emotions toward the daytime moon quite aptly. Perhaps deep down, it’s not anger that I feel, but fear.
The daytime moon is certainly unknown to me, if not humanity at large. That’s not to say that I don’t know of its existence (I wish I didn’t know of its existence – this past week would have been much easier), but that we can’t reconcile its existence with our worldview. This leads us to fear the daytime moon.
The moon is a nighttime object; there is no debate on this matter. How then must we contextualize the role of this daytime moon within its nighttime association? The sun, a daytime object, does not appear at night.
Scientists can try to understand this by spouting explanations with technical terms like “apparent luminosity,” “sidereal period,” and “moon,” while ancient civilizations have created mythologies and stories to explain this phenomenon. It doesn’t matter whether modern astronomers are correct with heliocentric model of our solar system or the Ancient Egyptians were with their stories of Khonsu, the god of the moon. We put too much stock in understanding and not enough in acceptance.
We fear the daytime moon because we do not understand it. This does not mean, however, that we need to understand the daytime moon. We are too obsessed with knowing and understanding. The daytime moon is one of the last mysteries of our time and we are so preoccupied with understanding it that we don’t appreciate it.
My feelings of anger and fear were misplaced. They arose from a deep part of the human creature that still fears the other and the unknown. These fears only lead to division and create strife. I’m not mad at the daytime moon and I don’t fear it – I just don’t understand it. Perhaps I never will and that’s okay.