Trying to impose order on the chaos of our ever-busier, ever more distraction-filled modern lives, often feels like an impossible task. Happily, points out Sophie Ioannou, there is one constant, consistent presence hovering reassuringly above the randomness of our existence on whom we can always rely.
Life is messy: I realised the accuracy of this statement after finding an old, incomplete to-do list in the back of one of my old notebooks last week. It made me ponder whether anybody has ever actually ticked off an entire to-do list. I concluded that no, nobody has ever completed a to-do list because life is too messy and too unpredictable to be ordered into such a strict daily routine.
The to-do list is the number one technique used by humans to impose order on our chaotic lives, and surely the number one most futile. Almost every time, more important things get in the way, or more exciting things, or sometimes terribly sad things that stop you from wanting to do anything at all. Sometimes things simply just don’t matter as much by the end of the day. Shit happens, all of the time, because there has never been a schedule to the peaks and troughs of existence – and it’s a goddamn nightmare.
But then there is the Moon. It waxes and wanes like clockwork. We know when it’s going to be full, we know when it’s going to be blue or crescent or eclipsed. It is wonderfully predictable in its nature, and drastically different to the erratic make up of human beings. The Moon makes sense in a way that we never will, because, unfortunately, there is not a crumb of order to our waxing and waning. Our dark lows and our soaring highs often arrive, frustratingly, without warning and oftentimes without explanation. I’m not suggesting that the Moon isn’t a complex entity worthy of our daily awe, but it very clearly has its shit together. It’s annoyingly reliable, consistently on time and stoically, mystifyingly Zen, even when being howled at (all traits we could really learn from).
Because we fickle beings collectively lack such dependability, it’s no wonder we try and organize our lives around the Moon and its faithful cycles, helping us inject some order into our existence. Whether or not the Moon’s cycles really do play a significant role in our emotional activities, its possible placebo effect seems to be astonishingly successful and provides an alibi for everything that we happen to do. A waning Moon, for instance, is apparently the best time for inward reflection. A full Moon encourages heightened thought activity and during a new Moon is apparently the best time to conceive. With all these pinpointed dates for our calendars, the ebb and flow of our emotions can be placed neatly in a chart and order can be reached, however briefly or vaguely.
I’m not sure if I fully believe in our ability to be moonstruck, but I do have an understanding of why we like to believe in it. We are all looking for reasons to justify why we do what we do. Finding a reason, quite simply, feels really good. Most of the time it’s a lot easier and safer to place responsibility in the hands of something bigger than us, much like a religious devotee puts their lives in the hands of God. It makes us feel less alone, like we’re in tune with the tides of the universe. If a full Moon is going to make us crazy, then at least were all in it together and if we’d all be more artistically fruitful during a waning Moon then at least we’d all know when to start creating. What’s more, if we buy into the Moon having a pernicious influence on our brains, then we technically don’t have to feel responsible for all those times we don’t complete our really important to-do list’s and I’m definitely not going to argue with that.