The man who missed the moonlight


The moonlight is lovely tonight.

But I didn’t mean to write about this. My intention was to write 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, waiting at a red light. As it turns to green, we see a man, a young one, hurrying to cross the street before we get moving.

He figures out that there wasn’t enough time for this and stops abruptly at the edge of the sidewalk, clearly disappointed showed by a motion of his hands and his whole body language that 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 bother? 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 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 important things may not matter, after all.

In the end?

I wonder when the end of our life comes and we look back, what shall we deem as important?


While I’m halfway there, I come to the conclusion that this road, all these things that came to pass, are nothing else but a memory; a ghost in my head, nothing more than that.

Nothing really verifies all these things I experienced during 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 lived was nothing but shadows. Or 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 could he possibly thinking of? That he was right, that indeed it is too late?

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

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

And then? When he closed his eyes all these things were gone?


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?

Everyone of us who are always in a hurry to do something, all these people who are in a rush to kill somebody, everybody, 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 bags of shopping and getting 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 so 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 the words that 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