The plane chased the sunset on the flight home, but it was a quest destined for disappointment that only prolonged the hopeful sliver of searing scarlet and fire orange before the darkness pushed it out of sight. Yet the moon at our tail was persistent and whole, clear with its splotches of grey and pure white brilliance that bounced blurred and distorted off the wing below my window. Only because I know the moon so well from the portrait I took not long ago, I imagined I could see a giant, dark crater in the upper left quadrant. A crater like you find yourself in when loss strikes you.
At first, you pitch your tent right in the murky middle. You neither dishonor your loss nor diminish someone new by quickly commissioning them as crater-fill so that you have a soft and artificial boost to the top. Nor do you deny your situation because that keeps you stuck interminably and insidiously within the crater’s bounds. If the sides are steep it might take a while to climb out. When you do you glance backwards and honor the reality that the huge hollowed scar still exists. It needs to exist.
Eventually, you erect your tent on higher ground farther away, with no pressure to choose light or dark, smooth or pocked. There is no finish line to step across, as if a final, fully sustainable, homogeneous destination called “happiness” exists for anyone. The jagged lunar crater remains – and there is nothing wrong with that – but you give yourself permission to take in the entire terrain with equanimity. After all, life will always be about brutal losses, but it is also about side-splitting laugher, joy in the massive and minuscule, warm new connections and love. It is all part of your harsh yet beautifully cratered landscape.