There was a man who was in love with two women. He didn’t plan it that way, nor did he try to prevent it. He was able to keep his two loves separate, mutually exclusive, and was content. But this sort of arrangement is difficult to maintain. Eventually, both women wanted more of a commitment. And while he was able to delay them for a time, his evasion eventually led to discovery.
Now, you might think that the two women would be consumed with anger on the discovery that neither of them was his sole lover. But they both felt like they were the one, his soul mate, and so they arranged to meet together — the three of them, to sort things out.
“Which one of us do you love the most?” They asked.
“I can’t choose, any more than I could choose a favorite son or daughter.”
“All right, then which of us would you save?”
“I don’t understand,” he said, buying time.
They were standing by a river. One of them pointed at the river and asked: “If we both fell in the river, which of us would you save?”
The man turned to the woman closest to him and gently asked: “My dear, can you swim?”
And that is the principle of lifesaving, to save the one that can’t swim. There was a long pause, during which the women were thinking of various lifesaving scenarios, like burning buildings and a shortage of parachutes. One of them began to imagine a scenario in which they were marooned on a remote island where the laws of time and gravity were more like vague suggestions. The man broke into her thoughts.
“As it turns out, I can’t swim.” The two looked at each other. It would be so easy… Of course, the women had instantly decided to save his life and not throw him in. The dilemma they had hoped to solve was still was unsolved.
A few days later the women called another meeting in order to explain the test of night. They had rented a house with three bedrooms. The three of them were to spend the night, and the man would make his choice by visiting the woman he most loved in her bedroom.
Night came, and the house became very dark. The man felt cornered. He could not choose. Maybe, he thought, I should learn to pray. He felt uneasy, a shadow fluttering though his mind. I’m being followed by a moonshadow. His next move was all important. I’ll go leaping and a hopping on that moonshadow. All at once there was a loud thump, and the two women were wakened. “What was that noise?”
“Not to worry, it was just my clothes falling to the floor.”
“Then why the loud thump?”
“I was in them at the time.”
He’d prayed with his feet. The two women arrived together and caught him in his attempt to avoid responsibility by fleeing the building. As he was gingerly lifting himself from the floor, they looked slyly at each other.
“Well,” said one, “perhaps you should not have been in your clothes at the time. Clothes make the man….fall down.”
The other agreed. “Yes, you’ll be so much safer if we removed those hazardous clothes.” The man was dumbfounded as the two women disrobed him. Without a fig leaf to cover him, he was completely nonplussed. They took him by the hand and led him to his chambers.
“You have been unable to choose, so now you must surrender.”
They tied him to the bed and covered him with a blanket, working so efficiently you might have thought this was their plan all along. “There, now you won’t float away.”
Now it was the women who seemed to be floating away. The tent that had formed in the blanket deflated, and the man began to wonder what was in store for him. One of the women went over and opened the curtains to the window. Moonlight shown into the room, reflecting off their white gowns. How unusual. The man was transfixed.
“Don’t think for a moment that you’ve ever found the single object of your love.” The women seemed transformed by light. It appeared as if they were lit up from the inside, and that they might float out the window and into the night like spirit orbs.
“Be watchful, man of the night. You yearn for what you are learning to see.” The voice could have come from anywhere. He wanted to answer, acknowledge his vision of the goddess. But his body seemed paralyzed, like when in sleep.
When he woke the next morning he was no longer bound. In fact, he realized he’d never been bound. I’m not going to say that he’d been dreaming, because that would diminish the experience. Whoever sleeps in this bed loses his clothing. But I will say he began a new routine. At the start of the day he would don the clothes of daylight, his persona. Come night, they would fall to the floor with a thud. But he would not be in them. Did it take long to find me? I ask the faithful light. Did it take long to find me? And are you gonna stay the night?
Bonus Link: Here’s a link to a trippy little animation (1977 — time: 2.36) of Cat Steven’s Moonshadow — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_qo5A_9bYY
Bonus Commentary: Moonshadow is a curious notion. In folklore and literature it seems more shadow than Moon, a hidden place where malevolent spirits or wrongdoers can ambush the unaware space. Reflect on Cat Steven’s lyrics: And if I ever lose my eyes…. I won’t have to cry no more. Like Jung’s shadow, it is an energy configuration capable of both darkness and spirited guidance, depending on how it is made conscious. I sense something like surrender, then moonshadow is magic — the peaceful light that will play, and just might stay the night.