When you have a unique tattoo in a super-visible spot, people have a tendency to approach you about it in public. Strangers at Whole Foods, on the subway platform, hell even strangers in the office frequently approach me, usually with some variation of “I love your tattoo! What does it mean?” Some people are offended by these questions, as tattoos are next-level personal, but I don’t mind that much. I explain it’s the phases of the moon (“Oh! I thought that was the moon!”), and it represents the yoga journey I’ve been on in the past almost-two years. I don’t get into the nitty-gritty of how the phases represent the larger journey of life, that everything comes in waves if you know what to expect and when; that preparing yourself to face life head-on based on where the tides are currently turning helps put the hard days in perspective, blah blah hippie stuff, etc. Usually just saying “it’s the phases of the moon for yoga” is enough for most people to move on.
This week leads up to the first quarter moon, halfway between the new moon and the full moon, and this is the week where challenges present themselves. The new moon is a time to sit, reflect, set hopes and intentions for the moon cycle and look ahead to possibilities; the first quarter is where obstacles manifest and your goal, leading into the full moon, is to find ways to handle them. Once I started tracking the moon, I noticed that the second week of the cycle, one of two things would happen: there would be a number of tiny frustrations (bad commute, long day at work, can’t find my favorite yoga leggings, etc.), or something would happen that triggered a strong emotional reaction. Honestly, I prefer the former of those two things. It’s easier to breathe through a number of small frustrations, especially when you know everything will be okay. It’s harder to breathe through a cold, hard truth staring directly at you, and it’s even harder to stay focused on the fact that everything is going to be okay.
On Monday, my boss/friend stopped by my desk to download on my life, asking pointed questions about my weekend and teasing me lightly about this crazy 2016 life plan of mine. We had a silly, easy conversation, but in his teasing, he said something that’s been on repeat for me ever since. Essentially, he made me realize that for the past month, I’ve been living in a really comfortable bubble of denial that I’ve been purposely ignoring for fear of it popping too soon; and he made me realize that I’m holding onto my comfortable denial, because I’m afraid if I confront the situation head-on, everything will not, in fact, be okay.
Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile with the fact that things won’t always go our way. This is a lesson I learn weekly in NFL regular season as a Jets fan, this is a lesson I learn daily as a New Yorker forced to ride the subway, and this is just a lesson we all learn in life over time; but just because we know and understand this lesson doesn’t mean it sticks with us. I found myself trying to bargain with the moon this week, like maybe if I hope hard enough my challenges won’t be related to a conversation I don’t want to have that is rapidly approaching. Hope is deceptive; it’s wonderful but after an eventful few years I have a tendency to distrust hope and optimism in favor of “preparing for the worst.” Now I find myself in a situation where I’m finally feeling hopeful and optimistic for the first time in years, and I feel like I’m sitting on a ticking time bomb, with no way of seeing the clock. It could be two months or twelve hours or ten seconds from exploding all around me.
Again this morning someone approached me at the office to ask about my latest tattoo, what does it mean, it’s beautiful. I started joking about it being the first quarter this weekend, so if work is crazy to blame it on the moon. I suppose to an extent when anything gets crazy, my instinct lately is to check the moon, and map out a plan for when the issue could be resolved; but not this one. Maybe in theory I know in time, this will all work out, but for now? Nah. It feels like enough to know the challenge is there and start planning how to move past it. I’ve got the ink on my arm to remind me that I’ll have to deal with it eventually. But for now, nah. I’m going to enjoy the little bubble of denial and keep a close eye on the explosives under me, waiting to fight back when that clock finally ticks all the way down.