The man who missed the moonlight


The moonlight is lovely tonight.

But I didn’t mean to write about this; my intention was to talk about a man who missed the moonlight.

(What a strange mistake! A man who missed the traffic light I meant to say.)


I am in the car with Nelli and we wait at a red light. As it turns to green we see a man, a young one, hurrying to cross the street before we get going.

He figures out that there isn’t enough time for this and stops abruptly at the edge of the sidewalk, clearly disappointed as manifested by a motion of his hands and his whole body language which truly sounds like “fuck!”.

Nelli gives a laugh next to me. So do I. We look at each other. The same thought occurred to both of us: “Why fuss about it? It’s no big deal. You’ll cross the street two minutes later”.


This man could well be the Marcel Marceau of “pointless anxiety”.

As we live, we focus on and fret about unimportant things, but, in this given moment, they seem so important to us as if our whole being depends on them.

The ice cream you dropped.

The pimple on your brow the day of your first date.

The bum note you played at a gig.

The subject you failed in the first semester.

The rain on your wedding day.

Your child that was late to go to school.

The gas cartridge that ran out just before your coffee was ready.

The scales that said you gained two kilos.

The words someone told you whom up to this moment you help as a friend.


These things seem to be all-important in this precise moment –as if the earth stopped spinning round when the gas cartridge ran out.

But in the end, even the most important things may not matter that much, after all.

In the end?

When the end of our life finally comes and we reflect back, what shall we deem as important, I wonder?


I’m halfway there and I have come to the conclusion that this road, namely all these things that came to pass, is nothing but a memory; a ghost in my head and no more than that.

Nothing really verifies all these things I lived these forty years.


“When we die”, I was thinking the day that I saw the man missing the… moonlight, “we’ll understand that all we ever lived was nothing but shadows; or maybe something even less, a dream, as if we are not about to ‘sleep’, but wake up”.

The next day, I heard on the radio a poet reading one of his poems, a year before he dies.

He said:”Life is the recollection of a memory of a dream”.


The poets, all of them, are cursed. They never forget that some day they will die. A traffic light, some words, or a gas cartridge can’t bamboozle them; or even a revolution.


“No matter how careful someone is, no matter how long they pursue it, it will always be too late, there is no second life”.

How old was Odysseas Elytis when he wrote these lines? Halfway there, too?

And when he died, at the end of the road, what possibly could he be thinking of? That he was dead right, that indeed it is too late?

Or maybe did he remember, in this final moment, that he had seen once a wonderful moon?

Could he possibly remember of a friend or a girl or a bottle of wine that he shared with his friends or the Aegean sun in a summer’s day?

And then? Was everything gone when he closed his eyes?


People live without thinking. Without stopping at the traffic light and take a look around or inside them.


How would an Existential Academy be like?

Imagine all of us who are always in a hurry to do something, all these people who are in a rush to kill somebody, everybody, just standing motionless at the edge of a sidewalk, in the middle of a road, at an ATM queue, behind their desk, at the demonstration, at the front, in the super market and asking themselves what is the meaning of life.

Would we see some leaving their shopping bags and go out, staring absent-mindedly into the void?

Would we see the riot policeman dropping his shield and walk around thoughtfully?

Would we see soldiers dropping their weapons and leaning their chin against their fist, like a veritable army of Auguste Rodin’s thinkers?


And if the disease kept spreading, would all people become poets?

A world of poets!

Forgive me God of Poets, but this world would be utterly boring, so static.


A poet stands out as long as they are the exception.

And in a world of poets, the exception would be a murderer.


The moon is still up there, pinned to the firmament. When I’m gone, it will still be there. If the entire humanity was wiped out, it would remain up there.

Fucking moon!

You don’t give a shit who’s staring at you.

You don’t give a shit if somebody will think of you before they die.

Fucking moon!

You don’t die.

You don’t live either.


The poets, all the poets, are blessed.

They never forget that they live.


I hear from the balcony where I am, under the moon, a little child telling his grandmother: “I love you”.

I do know that the words will linger in her ears when the time has come to close her eyes.

No moon has ever felt like that.


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Translated by Alexandros Mantas