I can be recognized in a crowd by a large circular moonstone pendant I wear all the time. It is the first I could buy from my savings sixteen years ago.. I couldn't wait to buy it, my mother had a moonstone pendant too, and my grandfather had a moonstone ring that looked rather feminine- something I came to notice only when I grew older..
My grandfather used to tell me that all moonstones are the teardrops of the full moon, when the moon looks at us, she either cries for joy or sadness, and I can feel which was the case when I hold a moonstone to my heart.. My mother, on the other side, told me that moonstones are gemstones that reflect light from the layers inside in a pearly glow reminiscent of the moon, that's why they are called moonstones, and that gemstones are rocks and minerals subjected to great heat and pressure, so they turn into semi-transparent crystals..
My grandpa would tell my mother that she was confusing me, and my mother would tell grandpa he was filling my head with fairytales..
Me, I didn't mind either.. I couldn't stop myself from wondering, hearing my grandfather's tale, what can make the moon happy, or sad, or, what are the ideals of the moon, had it been a conscious being, or, how is it to watch us from very far (we must look very silly sometimes). And I couldn't also stop myself from asking, when I remember the explanation of my mother, what power can gemstones have, considering how they formulate, and why do they look beautiful, or, why glowing, semi-transparent things appeal to us, what is our secret with light, or, why does everything look like everything, what is it that makes us so consistent..
Neither of them realized that fairytales lead to existential inquiries, and scientific facts lead to soaring of imagination...
And it is only in my moonstone that I bought some years later that my grandfather's romanticisim and my mother's scientific approach pour together, unseparable, in this perfectly round heart, and since the day I dangled the necklace on my chest I have been saying that I have full moon all year round...
Indeed I can be pointed out easily with it, and I hardly met anyone who hadn't flicked his eyes towards my moonstone before looking at my face...
It is not that I am preoccupied with moonstones, or the lunar being, but this is a sort of a little gate to a vast, yet vivid place that is me.. so no tagging moongirl or luniac or such fatally dangerous humor of our age that reminds me of playing with sharp knives..
I am not a gemstone, I don't get more precious under pressure.. I like expansion and vastness.. I like to find something beautiful and spend the whole day admiring it and weaving the aura around it into palpable fabrics.. If you say a beautiful phrase, I'd like to
hear it again, and then listen to its echo, and how it is reflected in the water or the trees or the shirt you are wearing or spaghetti of dinner.. This is not void or emptiness, that are suspected to be the case in days like these, I regard it as ultimate occupation, complete and utter..
But what is the difference between this and a regular tight schedule? It goes with the flow..
But it doesn't always go this way, does it?
I lived most of my life with both my working grandfather and mother.. My grandfather worked in making wooden crown moulds and ceiling ornaments, I used to go to his workshops when I was very little, and I would sit for hours watching his very delicate work, not at all in accordance with his very large hands and thick fingers, but it hardly makes me wonder, I was taught by him that every rule has too many exceptions that it can barely be productive.. I still believe in a group of unsaid laws, but I take from him that these laws, or taxonomy or rules, spring naturally through the unfolding time, but if we apply them first-hand, we risk to be prejudiced, pre-judgemental, and usually unfair.. My mother, on the other hand, worked in a multinational company, public affairs consultant- People can be stacked and packed even and easy.. It is much easier, to tell the truth, but it is easier to take the dust and miss the gem, too.. She hadn't always been to that extent -she was predisposed, I guess- but ever since she was handed over the responsibility of running her family and taking care of me after my father passed away, she decided, in a way, to comply to the system of the community and learn their ways, so she could work her way through.. But it is scarey how it possessed her, one could see it in her eyes before and after.. And it got tripled after joining this company (and passing through all the "qualifications" it recommended).. I was somehow certain of this, the policies of these companies are a trapping web, I consider them the UFOs that kidnap and brainwash us and let us go to spread their ideals... A little bit exaggerating, but I don't mind.. I am an emotional person..
My mother's days tripped over each other, and everyday was like a box that needs to be packed and put away... My grandfather, rarely aware what day is today, guesses the hour from the sky and never seems to walk to a destination, even when he actually does, he always looks like someone taking a walk in his leisure...
I look much like having a partiality for my grandfather, but it is not true... This doesn't arise from the fact that I am against my mother. Not at all. As I have said, in my moonstone, both my grandfather's and mother's stones pour, and my mother, she was in a whirl, she had no time to be aware of what was happening to her, and that is the greatest weapons of the Conductors..
My faint memory of my early childhood was of a very quiet woman that talked through glances, "stoic" if you would glad.. But later one could have hardly have eye contact with her, and the bodily contact, characteristic of our days, chaotic, casual, and electric...
My grandfather had always considered her his daughter, excessed in his romantic regards with her to give way to her to argue and criticize, though sometimes she was harsh, but he knew it was the only way to help her think, in the hope that she would reconsider.. He knew her long before she married his son, and his strong faith in her always made me hope.. After all, there was a reason why she kept wearing this moonstone.. We had always been telling her that we didn't need all the money.. My grandfather would tell her that he gets enough money to keep us well-to-do, but she would laugh and wonder why it was bothering us anyhow, and checked herself before she would say something that could hurt me..
It was two years ago that she passed away from recurrent breast-cancer...
I don't know what she had been thinking in her last days, but I have hope that she left this world reconciled, for a month before the violent backlash, she took a long vacation... Though she looked depressed and apathic, maybe wondering if her sacrifice was worth it.. She stuck to grandpa when she happened to go out, but then her sickness restricted her to our house..
I saw her the morning she died, she looked like sleeping and having a tense dream..
My grandfather tried to keep me away from home in those last days, in the fear that I see her when it happened..
I was given all her jewelry and belongings, including the moonstone.. My father gifted her many beautiful pieces... but after a couple of days of having the necklace staring at me from the bedside, I decided it should be buried with her.. I didn't go, my grandfather did...
After the funeral, the house became unbearable, more than ever.. I had been recruited recently as a philosophy teacher in a high school with a good salary.. But my days were monotonous, despite the friends and family.. I only went once a week near the muddy river that ran solemnly across the city, unnoticed, but carrying our trash, metaphorically speaking, though I know the literal meaning applies..
I wasn't the kind that just lives on, and says that life is what happens to me, play around at weekends, career ambition, thrive on gossip, the same sort of categorization that we knew when children as curricular and extra-curricular activity (and when adults as marital and extra-marital affairs, my goodness).
Neither I was the kind with multiple goals, involved in environmental committees, yoga classes, a job, charity, a biophysics diploma, and tennis maybe..
I would dance on Friday and read with dedication when an elaborate subject interests me, and help out with no hesitation, then why I am saying this, for a simple reason; the first kind gets ennuied and moody frequently, and the second gets a nervous breakdown very oftenly...
I don't believe this should be, it is not like an undesired but necessary side-effect of living either way... I see it the other way round, I see that the amusement and joy that arise from either kinds of living are accidental secondary effect.. It is what I believe, not because it is a fact that I can prove, but because I choose to believe it.. We try to put any taste to our mechanical, narrow lives in which our main effort is directed to survival..
I waited for my grandfather one day I skipped work.. I had prepared his favorite tomato soup, and I sat in the garden with a book opened casually, untouched, on the table, leafed by the breeze, as if the wind was trying to allure me to reading it instead of keeping track of the thoughts that ran back and forth in my head...
It was one of the times, when my two aspects clashed, a moment wondering if I am too rational and disregarding my intuition, and the other worrying about being dreamy...
It is a major conflict, I believe, when we feel bad in a certain situation that is not generally bad, applying general standards.. we start to wonder if it is the situation that is wrong or it is us, "What if I will take the unhappiness with me wherever I go", it is a serious predicament, this "Am I the problem" question, especially when there is nothing concrete to throw the blame on, and people all around are asking what your problem is and you can't give them an answer..
"This hair tells me you are up to something", I heard my grandfather's voice, tired but trying to sound merry.. The untied hair became a familiar gesture to him when I take an attitude towards something..
I kissed him and insisted that we talk after lunch..
Feeling it was going to be a serious talk, he made his best to entertain me with jokes and bread boats in the tomato soup and a tale I heard many times before about why tomatoes are red... He always used to tell me "15 minutes laughter before a serious decision, works miracles".
This time it was an amusing full hour, after which I only wanted to fall asleep in his arms and maybe wake up with decisions taken and everything already changed.. A wish that was far from who I am, who cherished every moment, even the tough ones, the fact that made me even more unsettled.. How so unlike me I've become..
Less living, more day-dreaming, something utterly wrong...
"I want to sell the house and leave, grandpa" I finally was able to speak, after a couple of tea cups... The reaction was mixed; a short moment of apprehension, a wisp of delight, and then knotted eye brows in which I am sure he had several considerations that I was very well aware of...
"Where do you want to go?"
I paused a moment to think, though I had thought a lot about this.. The alternatives, they usually decide whether a decision is good enough.. Mine varied from extreme (a cabin at the river's springs) to slightly different (a small apartment in the suburbs in the south) the last being favored for being less risky, few compromises, and a middle ground to satisfy everyone..
But suddenly all alternatives seemed silly to me, and I lost desire to go on with this, actually I felt like sleeping...
All of a sudden I turned apathic and I gazed away in silence.. And I remembered my mother, she had to put logic to everything, that was so hard, now that I know, no wonder she was overcome... I clasped my moonstone and I thought, I needed a community that flourishes with the well-being of its individuals, not one that devours them and cancels them out..
There is something about celebrating our mistakes as a proof of our humanity that we miss... I wanted to be able to take a decision and not be condemned to my doom with it if I was mistaken..
Possibilities are infinite, and if I would weigh things meticulously, I will die in the spot I was born... I remembered my grandfather telling me once that my grandmother used to say "I don't need the sky to fall on me to do the right thing."
I broke out from my shell and asked my grandfather "What is the right thing, pa?"
He had been patiently waiting for me, and most probably unaware of what I had been thinking..
"The right thing.. it is what will make you go to sleep tonight with a smile and a serene heart.. and it is what I will give all my support to.."
"I want.. to go to your old house, where my dad was raised.."
He involuntary touched his ring and twisted it.. it is the moment that I came to realize the moonstone ring was my grandmother's..
The old house was in a town 300 kilometers away.. My grandfather was never so hard-headed, he was known to be easy-going and adaptive, but he never, never agreed to sell that house, despite all the arguments and imploration.. I was told I lived my first year in this house, but I have no memory of it.. We passed it once when I was eight as we travelled by in summer... They had waken me up from sleep to take a look at it as we drove across the town, I just glanced at it and went back to sleep, with the fading voices of my parents recalling memories..
"I.. I don't know, I haven't been there for many years.. I don't know how life can be there now.."
He was distracted and confused, I assumed by a cataract of memories..
"It's alright, we will go take a look.. We will find a place somewhere.. an.."
I stopped, my heart was beating fast and my chest heaved.. My grandfather looked in my eyes, I looked in his... we laughed, and laughed, and I cried.. He took me in his arms until I calmed down.. "Darn, finally we're going to leave this horrible place.. I waited for your father, and then he left me behind, and then your mother, and she left me behind too.. I should have counted on you from the beginning!"
"You weren't happy either?"
"No..", it was a very short answer for him.. I asked "Why didn't you leave?"
He embraced me more tightly and sighed... I knew it had to do with my father.. His enthusiasm, no-one could dare to stop this..
I looked at his eyes, he was looking up and away, and there, was a big, yellow full moon looking at us from among the buildings, and in this moment, I perceived what picture I am part of.. Maybe I saw it on the face of the moon, or heard it in the beating heart of my grandfather, but I found out I was just a woman who finds life synonymous with joy, and with the concept of the eternal Now..
I am not advocating recklessness or being impuslive, it just occured to me that when logic fails to change what we feel about something, we don't have to bend to logic..
I know people who would argue with themselves for months and years on end, trying to talk themselves into feeling good about something, but finally they just turn numb.. Just because our soul can't bleed red blood or get a malignant tumour- strange enough for how much we claim to be open-minded and all-knowing..
My grandfather helped me to get in bed this night.. I looked at him walking away, and... I fell asleep before the thought could take shape..
Five months later, we were in a small cabin in that town where my father was raised.. The house of my grandparents needed a lot of repairments, and we didn't have enough money to make them quickly, and we started bit by bit.. The house we left behind was not sold yet.. But could we mind less! The tiny cabin was very comfortable and always gave a push to spend time outside, thus helping us (especially me) get acquainted and familiar with the town.. the environment encouraged that, it was rich, and I finally understood where my grandfather got his leisurely stroll..
There wasn't many youth in the neighbourhood, mostly elderly who couldn't depart with their ambitious babies, and there was also the children of the orphanage, and a few young families..
It was worrying for my grandfather, he thought this deprived me from a proper social life- I also know he worried for my chances of getting married, and he would hint about my attachment to him and the importance of letting go because he was too old and could be leaving soon..
I just smiled.. To see him worry in that clear way was new to me, but responsibility and care for one's family, it can easily do that..
Anyhow, he didn't need to keep those worries for more than a couple of months.. I had developed strong relationships and circles of acquaintance.. Who could imagine such a rich social like could be attained in a town that looked so boring? That, is what I was talking about.. People always mistake expansion and vastness for emptiness... What looked like dullness was in fact serenity, and it is just when you step in that great vastness that you discover how full and ultimate it is.. Not as romantic as I might seem, for I do know the dull towns and cities that can leak their coldness to our bones, it is not what I meant, though..
People in this ancient town consist of individuals, where I was before people were clusters, with hundreds losing their identity in the middle, and the only way to gain back their outlines was either to be a celebrity, a genius, an exquisitely charitable figure, or a desperately productive artist..
I still taught philosophy and arts in a high school in the outskirts, but only in summer.. Instead, I was an intern at my grandfather's workshop (the enterprise where he used to work in the metropolis still asked him to make some orders, and we would travel there every once in a while to deliver and meet family and old friends). I learnt the art fast, and it was my official work, you can't imagine how much philosophy there is in a piece of wood turning into an ornament..
An on-looker might say I am a teacher and I do some wood-work as an extra (it is a powerful word of our age, isn't it?) And I might very well be, but it is this subtle shift in perception that turns everything upside down..
We don't need to abandon our houses, change our professions and dye our hair to be new persons, or better, true persons who acknowledge their hearts as much as their minds.. We can be seemingly in the exact same circumstances, but we know it is not the same anymore, and people would wonder why we are happy and serene now (People would always wonder, in all cases) It is a decision, and if it entailed certain actions and changes, so be it...
A year ago I moved to our new old house with my grandfather and my husband. A two-storey house with a beautiful wooden handwork, and a garden with budding plants.. I couldn't wander there so oftenly at first, in the fear that my wheelchair would damage the young plants, but I do sit in it for long hours at night, observing the moon and the stars..
"Look at the moon" I said, as he was gazing in my eyes while I watched a full moon,
"I see the moon" he said, not stirring or moving his eyes, "you know what is more wonderful than watching the moon? It is to watch the moon in your eyes.."
It was strange, because I too saw a moon in his eyes, but it was my moonstone, reflected, and it looked more beautiful too..
Things are beautiful because we are here to appreciate them, because whoever said beauty is in the eye of the beholder, spoke the truth..
And life, it is like a beautiful young woman that can only see herself in the reflection of your eyes..