Three extraordinary occurrences are necessary to create a lunar eclipse. The moon must reach its fullest point in the sky, it must pass directly behind the earth to hide in it’s shadow, and the sun, earth, and moon must all be in complete, harmonious alignment. It’s no wonder that there are only two lunar eclipses in every cycle of 365 days, as it’s rare in life for all paths to cross at exactly the right moment in time. Some might call these circumstances coincidence or luck. I call them miracles. However on the warm, dewy night of the September 28th lunar eclipse, I wasn’t contemplating miracles, or wondering who else might also be under the moon like I was, waiting for it to cast it’s defining red glow. I was thinking about “birthday resolutions.”
At its beginning, the eclipse would see me at seventeen years old, and by its end, around midnight as the 28th turned into the 29th, I would be eighteen years old. The moon was renewing itself, beginning a fresh cycle of phases, so I decided that I would do the same for myself. I would leave my past behind, and become the new me. I was determined to do eighteen differently.
I can't remember a time in my life when resolutions were only for New Years. I've always been a person of transformations and new beginnings, but ones that would line up with a date on my well-loved calendar. I never liked surprises, and a due date gave me time to prepare. The world wasn't going to give me a perfect time to change, so I was willing to make one for myself. After Christmas, I’ll eat healthier, I’d tell myself. I’ll get that new haircut on the last day of summer. I’ll start doing yoga on the first of the month. I’ll try to use my phone less this weekend. I will become my new-and-improved self on my eighteenth birthday.
It began at a place where great stories often start, but are rarely documented: The Renaissance Festival. It is what I consider to be the truly great Minnesota get together, where we walk on dirt roads, and talk to strangers. Where men wear tights, women wear flowers in their hair, and workers yell “Twenty pounds for the king!” every time someone pays with a twenty dollar bill. You know, the usual. Strangely, this outlandish festival is where I have always felt most at home, because it is where my quiet, bookworm self can become a person I have always wanted to be– someone sociable, dramatic, and loud, who doesn't care what others think of her. The Renaissance Festival is the island of misfit toys dressed up in billowy shirts and corsets. It was the perfect place to cultivate change and to become someone different for a day without fear of judgement.
It was funny how a new state of mind and a fairy costume could change my demeanor. I was no longer the shy girl that everyone saw at school. This new person was confident and fearless. I chatted with a blind man, and he gave me a butterfly pin to remember him by. When street performers shouted at me as I walked past, I shouted back at them. A carnival worker boy smiled at me and he looked like he had stepped out of a movie, so I told him that he was handsome. An old woman sold me a sterling silver ring, and then we spoke about how everyone seemed to be in such good temperaments because the eclipse was coming that night.
It was amazing that by simply opening myself up, this crazy new cast of characters could walk into my life. These beautiful, influential people could have a single conversation with me, and not know that they were altering my perception of myself.
The last person I met was an artist, under the draped tent at the henna booth– an older man with sparkling eyes, and rings on all ten of his fingers. His voice gave way to a goofy lilt as he studied my face as if it was hanging in a picture frame. He asked about my heritage and genealogy, because he said I had exotic eyes and otherworldly features. How odd, I thought, to be described in such bold adjectives by a stranger who may as well have come from another world himself. He pushed aside the gauzy fabric over his ankle to reveal a fresh tattoo. A Buddhist spiral to symbolize the common journey in life from struggle to harmony. He used henna to stain the inside of my arm with the same spiral, drawn so artistically that it reminded me of the sun. "I only put this symbol on people who understand it," he said. "So, now we match. Although, I suppose our minds already did. Part of me thinks that people are a lot more connected than they seem." I ended up scribbling his words on a stray candy wrapper after I left. I never knew the guy's name, and yet, I think of that strange encounter every day. It really does prove that connection is everywhere.
When I left The Renaissance Festival and arrived at home again, it felt as if I had already lost my outgoing new self as I took off my fairy dress in favor of street clothes. I don't know where that girl had gone, or if she had even been there at all. The eclipse was coming, and I tried to go through my usual full moon routine–taking a bath, meditating, sitting under the night sky– but I couldn't stop thinking about how I might retrieve the persona I had worn at the Renaissance Festival. I had met so many influential people, and it felt like their fingers were sinking deep into me, trying to pull out the girl they had met. If they had seen me as I really was, a quiet bookworm, would they have wanted to talk to me at all? If I wasn't acting as a brilliant, fearless fairy, would the blind man have given me a butterfly pin? Would the movie-star carnival worker have smiled at me? Would the henna artist still have seen something otherworldly in my eyes?
So, I made my birthday resolution. On my eighteenth birthday, I would be confident and I would be outgoing. I would be better. I would be the elusive fairy girl.
I watched the moon turn red, and I thought about the nature of change. What does it take for the moon to become red? What does it take for a person to become who they want to be?
Three extraordinary occurrences are necessary to create a lunar eclipse. The moon must reach its fullest point in the sky, it must pass directly behind the earth to hide in it’s shadow, and the sun, earth, and moon must all be in complete, harmonious alignment.
As the moon shifted from dark to glowing red light, I shifted too. I realized that the entire universe conspired to create this eclipse, and to ensure that each path crossed at exactly the right time. Similarly, every path in my life had crossed in order to lead me to each of the people I met at the Renaissance Festival. I realized that all we really are is a collection of every person that we have ever spoken to. I realized that every encounter, every moment in time, changes us. We do not change in one instance, we are changing in every instance because every second that passes is a new moment in time that has never happened before. Every occurrence is a miracle, because all the people you have ever spoken to, and everything you have ever done in your life has led you to this moment, here and now. Your own personal, sun, earth, and moon are falling into perfect alignment to create you: an eclipse in human form, the person you have always been.
I don't make resolutions anymore because on the night of the eclipse, I discovered that it is impossible to find the perfect time for change. Change is happening constantly. My life led me to cross paths with the blind man, the street performers, the movie-star boy, the old moon woman, and the henna artist. They didn't meet the person I wanted to be, they met the person I already was. They exposed the part of myself that had been hiding inside of me all along.
When the eclipse reached totality and careened back into darkness, I turned eighteen. I was the universe in ecstatic motion. I was a fairy and a bookworm. The dark and the light. Just like the moon, I was always changing, discovering new phases of myself. I was an eclipse of a girl, and what a miracle that is to be.