There was a time when anyone could look up at night— anyone, anywhere on the entire planet—and, if the clouds were absent, they could see the sky in its entirety. I have always looked for the stars on clear nights, but I haven’t always found them. I’ve stood outside, tilted my chin to Canis Major, to Orion, to Bootes, to Lyra, and felt a great sadness in my chest. This is not it, I thought. There’s more. There’s the Milky Way’s veiling ribbon, the cool shadows of shooting stars, the whole sky lit to fire… but not here. Not anymore.
Even with light pollution, the moon still waxes and wanes. It pulses between orange and blue light. It both dominates and shrinks away from the expanse of the sky; it climbs above the sun yet at other times refuses to surface above the tree line. All this, and still the moon is reliable. When I look to the moon, I feel the same way as I do when I sit next to my favorite cedar tree, or when I see Mt. Hood’s blue and white face. It’s the comfort of feeling a connection with something ancient, immutable, and nearly eternal.
It was a full moon in August, just before my senior year of high school, when the idea came to me. I went outside to greet the moon. The light was bright enough to read a book under. As it cast a thin and colorless glow over my hands, I began to wonder what it would be like to live in a nocturnal society. I wrote the idea down in my notebook, but I didn’t begin to write Call of the Sun Child for another year. At the time, I was writing other things, so I let the idea of a nocturnal people revolve in my mind. It’s a good thing I waited, because in that time, I refined my beliefs about the world, I learned to think independently, and, most importantly, I discovered what I wanted to say.
Inspired by the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, I started really looking around me. As a child I had played in the forest around my house, but after I read Emerson’s Nature, the forest transitioned from an imaginary kingdom into a tangibly sacred place. As I took up studying the natural world, I also began to notice what I didn’t like about modern society– the wastefulness, the destruction of Earth’s beauty, the disregard for what truly sustains us in favor of the imagined importance of money! It made me angry, hearing the cars on the highway as I knelt next to the creek. I hated the overly large houses blemishing the hills. The concrete covering the dirt was a dull, grotesque replacement for the true earth. I craved the wild places beyond the city. I craved a life that wasn’t ruled by made-up things. Some were okay, like the arts, like music, like literature. But, more and more, it seemed like everyone was forced to work their lives away in order to make money, in order to watch television, to buy things.
And then I realized that it hadn’t always been that way, nor did it have to continue being that way. For most of human history, all people lived simply, and respected the Earth’s life-giving processes. In my helpless juvenile state, there was only one thing I could do to rekindle in other people this desire I had found myself—or to at least convince them to love the natural world again, and to recognize that we can’t live without the sun, the river, the trees, or the air. So I wrote Call of the Sun Child. I wrote it passionately and impulsively, hoping more people would mourn the loss of the stars, and be thankful for the moon.
Originally published on the Homebound Publications blog.