One of the first lessons I learned in my first year of college in my first astronomy class was about the special care needed to see the faintest objects. The bright ones? Go ahead and look all you want. But the dim ones? The ones that are hardest for us to see? Those we need to approach with mindfulness. We need to gently glance, not boldly stare.
The faintest celestial objects—whether they are stars, galaxies, or open clusters—can’t be viewed straight on. If we try, we can’t see them. To truly see faint objects, you locate them and then let your eyes drift jusssssttt to the side. Because it is with our peripheral vision that we see them best.
In that first astronomy class, I also learned biology. Our eyes detect light with two kinds of photoreceptor cells—rods and cones. They each have a job to do. Rods function in low light settings and detect black and white while cones are active in bright light and detect color. Our eyes have both rods and cones, but the center of our eyes is all cones. So if you look directly at a dim object in the sky? You won’t see it at all. But when you allow your eyes to shift ever so slightly, there it is. Coming into view. And it seems almost magical.
And the rules of the night sky are the rules of August.
Because August is the month where we are pulled away from what is bright and in front of us to the faint objects on the horizon—namely, September. September with all of its rush and obligation and early alarm clocks.
It’s hard not to look directly at it.
When we focus on September, we can’t see August.
And we forget to be here.
In August. In the dog days of summer. (Called that because Sirius, the night’s brightest star, is in the constellation Canis Major—the Big Dog. And it is this time year that Sirius rises just before the sun.)
I invite you to be here. And let September sit in your peripheral vision.
Let the focus of today be August. Allow time for summer. Then add September planning on the periphery of you days.
Let the focus be on childhood, then add summer reading and essays and paperwork along the edges.
Because if we put September straight in front of us, we can’t see it, and neither can our children. They sure can feel it. The nerves. The energy. The go-go-go. It amps them up. It takes them to an emotional space for events they actually can’t yet do anything about. No matter how hard we try and rush towards September, we can’t bring it to us any faster. So I am going to give you permission to stop trying.
Be here. And then think about there. Be grounded and then plan. It’s the art of transitions. Whether you are thinking about the bigness of August to September or doing the smaller stuff like going from inside Target to the parking lot, navigating transitions is hard work. There’s an art to it. And a science. The art is about starting grounded, and the science says keep your focus where you are and the next step in your periphery.
Trust your eyes. Follow your heart. Teach your children to do the same. Be here, and perceive what is coming next. Live August, feel September.
My daughter Eleanor knew I was writing today, but she didn’t know the topic. Yet she fully felt it. Because she leaned over to me and said “Mom, I’ve been thinking about this all day. Everyone needs to stop and live in the moment. We need to appreciate where we are in our lives and love ourselves more.” Sometimes, we teach our children and sometimes, we are taught by them.
This week, as the sun sets just a bit earlier each day, stay here. Live in each moment, and see your next steps as they appear out of the corner of your eye. The art and science of transitions.
- Want to go back and (re) read Week One? It’s all about belonging.
- For Week Two it is about listening to our own voice and the owl outside my window.
- Rubber Ducky, you’re the one (and how we watch our emotions, instead of get hooked by them) for Week Three.
- And the importance of yams (and letting go of what we expect will happen) for Week Four.
- Week Five was all about trying it over again. Hello, Mulligan.
- Writing ourselves in at the top of our to-do lists was Week Six.
- I love hearing from you. And I’d love to know all about your summer so far. You can send me an email, or join the facebook conversation here.
Have friends you know will love Summer of Love? You can forward this email and they can click right here to get all signed up. Love the Love!