Ellen Greenblatt encounters herself during a walk under a full moon.
A full moon rises after sunset, appearing dramatically low and huge in the sky. If you are walking under a forest canopy, as the lucky few of us on the recent monthly Full Moon Hike offered at Point Reyes National Seashore, it’s mighty dark before the moon shows itself. But oh my, when it does, amidst the croaking frog symphony, it’s impossible not to gasp, to feel small, to feel humbled by your great good luck.
Brandon, the excellent Point Reyes education guide leading our small group, had stressed safety before we started since, after all, a full moon hike meant we were walking in the dark. But just before we turned back, he proposed that each of us might, one by one, take a solo hike in the dark down the 3-foot-wide trail. I chose to use a small light to make sure I didn’t trip over something and, you know, ruin the hike for everyone, but, as instructed, I aimed the light at my feet and remained surrounded by the deep forest darkness.
I was surprised that I was not afraid of animals or the dark itself, but I was taken aback by how very solitary I felt and how my mere six or seven minutes alone on the trail in the dark took on a significance that I have since returned to in my mind again and again. Although I appear to be an extrovert, I am all-too-aware that everyone goes through life alone, and walking on this trail in the dark made my awareness concrete. Not only that, many of us either have no idea what lies ahead or don’t know how to get where we think we want to be going. As I walked alone, I realized that, as a newly-solo person, my life would be, at least for now, like this walk in the woods — alone, unable to see where I was going, unable to know when the path would end. Oddly, the realization was comforting.
Ellen Greenblatt is a Bay Area writer and writing coach.