A friend and I are traveling east on the freeway one evening directly toward a bright, gigantic full moon rising over the horizon. I call my wife so we can share the experience vicariously.
“Honey, go outside and look at the moon. It is beautiful!”
“Okay. When will you be home?”
“About 30 minutes.”
“Okay, see you then. I will check out the moon.”
Several minutes pass. My phone rings.
“Where is it?”
“In the sky.”
“I know that, but which side of the house?”
I think about the orientation of our house compared to the direction we are driving and the location of the rising moon.
“It should be outside the back door, looking east.”
“Don’t tell me directions. I don’t do directions.”
“Okay, go straight outside the back door and look up.”
“Okay. See you soon.” Click.
A few more minutes pass. My phone rings.
“We looked out back, we looked out front. There is no moon.”
“I am looking at it right now. It is huge. Go stand outside in the backyard and look up. There is no way you can miss it.”
I hear footsteps, a door opening, footsteps.
“We are standing in the backyard. Looking up. We don’t see the moon.”
“Look around. It is right there in the sky. I don’t see how in the world you can miss it. It is big, bright, and beautiful!”
“Okay, we’ll keep looking.” Click.
Shortly thereafter, I arrive home. I walk in the front door and a couple of my family members are sitting in the living room watching TV.
“Did you see it?” I ask.
“You are playing some weird joke on us,” they reply. “We looked all over. We went outside up and down the street out front, and traipsed all over the backyard. There is no moon.”
I am standing in the living room right in front of them. The back blinds are open and I can see outside. I observe the people looking past me toward the TV behind me. I wonder if they actually got up, or even bothered to turn around and look.
“Did you even get up and look?”
“You looked outside? In the backyard? Up in the sky?”
“There is no moon,” they insist.
“I can see the moon from here,” I inform them.
And I can. I am standing in the living room, right in front of them, and I can see the moon through the window outside in the sky. Big, bright, beautiful. There is no way to miss it.
“You’re kidding. Stop playing around and sit down. There is no moon tonight.”
“Okay, but only if you will stand up and look outside.”
Reluctantly they stand up and turn around.
“Hey, there’s the moon! It wasn’t there a few minutes ago. What did you do?”
Now I think maybe they are crazy.
“I didn’t do anything. You are telling me you not only turned around to look, but you got up, went outside, and looked around?”
“We promise we did. We looked all over, and that moon was not there until just now.”
Intrigued, I walk outside. They follow me.
“It is possible, I suppose, that the moon – from this vantage point – has just now become visible over the tops of those distant houses and tree line. And that I, driving on a long, flat freeway without obstructions, could have seen the moon earlier.”
“See! We told you! There was no moon!”
“Maybe you could not see it, but, yes, there is a big, bright, beautiful, full moon tonight. It is there, plainly visible, right now.”
“We couldn’t see it when we looked. There was no moon until you walked in the house.”
“Just because you couldn’t see it doesn’t mean it wasn’t there!”
They go back in the house while I linger outside in the brightening darkness, illuminated by the reflected light of the sun bouncing toward earth off our giant moon, clearly visible and rising higher and higher in the eastern sky. When I finally return inside, my wife asks, “What were you doing?”
“Looking at the moon.”