Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Full Moon

On full moon nights, I love driving out to the Tashi Choling Tibetan Buddhist temple in a mountain valley outside of Ashland. When meditation practice is finished, a wonderful experience in itself, there's something else to look forward to--the drive back to town with the full moon's splendid light radiating over the expansive valley. Tonight though, it's cold and foggy and I chose to remain home.

This painting by 19th century German painter Carl Anton Joseph Rottman is such a beautiful evocation of the energy the full moon pours out over the landscape. The moon streams through the inner landscape, too. I couldn't sleep last night because of the way the energy of the full moon spurred recollections, ruminations and musing. I usually appreciate the disturbance of being moonstruck. But I'm glad to get a rest from the intense luster of the full moon for the rest of the month, or who knows what the heck life would be like.

I lie on my couch by the front window
and watch the moon rise
like a pearl held between two cloud shells
like the luminous center of a flower of cloud petals
like a jewel appearing in a round cloud window

just the full moon
above a mesa and canyon
composed of cloudbanks

I wrote that poem in December 2004. The moon waxes and wanes. The months and years pass. Now here we are nearly at the end of 2009, which has been for me a year of deep invention, acceptance and expansiveness. As the composer John Cage once said, "Everything we do is music. Everywhere is the best seat."

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. Gene Cohen, author of The Creative Age and The Mature Mind, both marvelous and inspiring books. I have been and will continue to be a big fan of Dr. Cohen's pioneering work in the field of aging. I wanted to share this tribute to Dr. Cohen from the December 1st issue of the Human Values in Aging Newsletter published by the AARP Office of Academic Affairs, H.R. Moody, Editor.


This month the field of aging lost one of its giants,
with the passing of Gene Cohen, M.D., on Nov. 9, 2009.
Gene Cohen's life was a stellar string of "first's":
At the National Institute of Mental Health in the 1970s,
he was the first chief of the Center on Aging. Later
he became President of the Gerontological Society and
Editor of the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Since 1994,
Gene served as the first director of the Center on Aging,
Health and Humanities at George Washington University.

Gene was a prolific scholar and writer. His book, THE CREATIVE
AGE: Awakening the Human Potential in the Second Half of Life, and
later THE MATURE MIND: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain,
have become classics expounding a vision of "positive aging"
based on solid empirical inquiry.

While at Harvard, Gene was a student of Erik Erikson and
he carried on Erikson's legacy of adult development. Unlike
Erikson, Gene lived only until age 65, and, as with Moses, he
glimpsed the "Promised Land" of old age, but did not himself
live to enter it. He has left us a legacy and I hope we live
up to it. For those who knew him personally, Gene was, truly,
a giant in his field, but a gentle giant-- humble, funny,
endlessly creative and accessible. In a word, he was a mensch.
He will not be forgotten.

Thanks to for the full moon image

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