Saturday, September 10th, just after 3 o’clock I got a call from my tailor, Kim. I’d left a couple of things for hemming. She was closing early. “We have a celebration tonight,” she told me. There had been some Chinatown festivities at the Farmer’s Market that day, with dragons and lions dancing in the streets, games of chance, a long table feast, music and vendors. Everyone was welcome to the long table. I noticed houseless and residents, settlers and Indigenous lining up for lunch, but I had been in a hurry. Now I hurried to search the Internet: the Moon Festival or the mid-Autumn Harvest Festival is celebrated across Asia. It’s a time when extended families gather to share food, hang lanterns, watch the moon and give thanks.
Could I come and get my clothes now? I couldn’t get to her shop fast enough, so we agreed to rendezvous at her home (not far from mine) about five o’clock. At the appointed time, I hopped on my bike, braved football stadium traffic (Calgary vs. Edmonton), skirted the road closures/barricades and arrived just after the hour, the house full of company. Kim was in the kitchen cooking. A daughter and then a granddaughter handed me my articles through the front screen door. This gathering, I thought, was its own passing on, generation to generation, the traditions that bind us; however we call them, to the land. I was grateful to glimpse this family’s celebration, even if just from the doorstep.
That night, when I woke in the middle of the night and peered out the window, I found the full moon shining through the trees, joined by Jupiter and Neptune. The whole sky was lit up. I lingered in the glow.
Ten days before I had experienced a harvest moon of my own, a re-aligning of the planets. A few months ago, I made a decision to leave my day job at the end of August to dedicate myself to writing full-time. I had been planning it for a long time. Leading up to the day, colleagues would ask what it felt like.
Like falling off a cliff and not knowing what was on the other side.
Or jumping out of an airplane. I had a parachute, I’d done the training, but would I land okay?
A kind of death, I told someone else. It is an ending, she agreed. But also a new beginning.
Well, now I’ve landed and it’s as if I’m experiencing each day from a new angle as I find my way into new routines and new habits. Working full time and writing part-time, there was so much that I needed to cram into each minute. I was good at it: eating and working. Getting to work and getting exercise. Reading and commuting. A double, even a triple life, endemic in our culture, rich at times, but also exhausting.
It is a blessing to be able to slow down, to do one thing at a time. Walking for the sake of walking. Rising later, more with my natural rhythms. Making lunch when I’m hungry. Doing the laundry any day of the week. Sundays were for so many years my writing shift, now I have whole weekends to enjoy like other people do! And regular work days to focus on my passion.
Some days I wake with trepidation. Can I meet my many goals? Will I be as productive as I think? Most mornings on rising, I’m reminded of other times in my life when I’ve set out on a new adventures: moves, travels, studies. I feel exhilarated, reinvigorated and alive. The mundane still enters in: the pin valve that broke on my hot water heater last weekend, the neighour’s shower that (somewhat) overflowed into my suite last week. Life still happens. But there’s a simplicity that comes with being able to focus one’s life—a clarity in connection. Like looking at that full harvest moon in the night sky: pure joy, surrounded by all the world.