The luna moth, Actias luna, is an ethereal delight of the season.
Though considered to be a relatively common creature, their brief moment of moth-hood means they are rarely seen in their final form. When we do spot one this time of year clinging to a wall or feebly flitting about, their hours are numbered.
With no mouths and no ability to eat, their sole purpose in their short lives is to breed-- to push forth a new generation who will befall the same fate. Most lunas will only live for a week and, if they're successful, they'll reproduce during that time.
And so it goes, right? One generation dies as another emerges into the world. Children become parents, parents become corpses.
The cycle of life. Birth, death and a bit of fleeting beauty in between.
Luna moths have always fascinated me-- their unique and delicate beauty, their seeming rarity, their substantial size. Should I find one, as I often do, stuck to the side of the house patiently waiting for death or sex, I feel quite lucky to be graced with its presence.
It has only struck me recently, however, what a shame their short, mouthless lives are.
All that time spent as egg, larva, pupa, to finally emerge as such a beauty only to die days later.
What a shame it is to exist only to breed.
Thirty-one years in this world and I feel that I've finally transformed from pupa to adult, emerging from the leafy cocoon of my twenties as a luna moth.
Okay, so perhaps not the ethereal beauty part of the luna moth but suddenly it seems that my sole purpose is to breed and not only to breed someday but soon, right now, immediately.
Sometimes it feels I've gone from human person to solely a walking-womb.
A decade ago, I had worth beyond my capacity for reproduction. I could have a conversation without discussing when and how many offspring I wished to spawn. I could talk about my hopes and dreams without someone interrupting to ask where I was going to fit babies into the mix.
A decade later I'm still trying to say the same things but I might as well be saying nothing at all. My lips are moving but all anyone hears is "she's getting old, she's must reproduce now!"
Like the luna moth, my mouth has become vestigial.
Unlike Actias luna and much of the animal world, modern Homo sapiens can make a choice whether or not to follow that biological directive. We do have mouths, and brains, and a limited ability to defy biology. And with that, just because we can reproduce, doesn't mean we have to or that we should.
I'm choosing not to.
Read these vestigial lips-- I want to be childfree.
My choice is not sad. There is no tragedy in not squeezing out further generations. There is nothing particularly special about my genetics that I'd like to impose on someone else (in fact, quite the opposite).
My choice is not a whim or a phase. It has been a long and agonizing decision-- years of feeling like there was something wrong with me for not conforming to the mainstream narrative that every woman wants to be or will be a mother. Years of weighing the pros and cons of each decision and finally months of feeling relief in realizing I am not a luna moth and I do have a choice in procreation.
My choice is not wrong. It is not wrong to not make new people.
My choice is not selfish.
Babies don't ask to be born.
In the nearly twelve months since I published my last post here life has changed dramatically though it looks much the same as it used to.
In October, my cousin, who was just shy of his twenty-first birthday, took his own life. A brilliant young man, his death has provided me with a fresh perspective on what it means to be born, what it means to die, and what it means to live.
Birth, death, and a bit of fleeting beauty in between...
sometimes the ugly parts that compose the majority of life are just too much to bear.
Out of birth, life, and death, we only have a choice in two of those matters. We do not-- cannot -- decide to come into existence (given that choice, would you?) but we can, to some measure, choose how we live and we can certainly choose how we die.
If there is no shame in deciding (often frivolously) to create an entirely new life, there should be no shame in deciding to end the life you were given without your consent.
Biology tells us that our life is precious-- our bodies make self-preservation a priority.
We want to live but we, as Homo sapiens, have the ability to defy biology.
The fact that we live in a world where so many people are able to, or desire to, make the choice to end their own lives despite what biology is telling them, reveals just how much pain and suffering there is in life and it reveals just how fleeting that beauty in between birth and death really is.
With so much suffering in life, in this world, I cannot rationally create another human being.
I will not be solely responsible for the pain and anguish of someone else.
Following this train of thought to this realization was like having the clouds rolled back to reveal every corner of the galaxy. Suddenly there was light in all those dark spaces that I've always been afraid to look in and guess what? those newly-illuminated places aren't nearly as scary as I thought they were.
Thank you, Tyler.
I understand now.
Whew, with that finally off my chest, on to lighter things.
Let's talk about my luna dress.
Had I picked the cotton and woven the fabric I could say this dress was 100% made by my own two hands.
In May, I took a beginner sewing class, a birthday gift from my mother, which commenced in a final project of each individual students choosing. I picked up an indie pattern (the Charli Anne wrap dress) but was dreaming of a bold insect-themed fabric and just couldn't find anything I liked in my price range, especially for the first run of a pattern.
I had luna moths flitting around in my head and my yard and a spare block of speedy carve in my craft drawer so I got to work and a grueling weekend of stamping and ironing later, I had four yards of custom-printed decent quality muslin. This was my first time block printing on muslin and my first time block printing so much fabric.
The dress itself was much less time consuming to sew than the fabric was to print and in a few hours I had a new dress to wear!
I LOVE this pattern, in fact, I've already sewed another wrap dress using a vintage bedsheet as my affordable fabric source. Eventually, when I'm more confident in my sewing, I'd like to run it in rayon.
From head to toe:
Necklace: catalog order circa 2004 (a high school favorite)
Dress: block printed and sewn by me (Sew to Grow Pattern)
Bracelets: Indian shop circa 2000 (high school favorites)
Shoes: Steve Madden
Making this dress felt like the dawning of a new era in my wardrobe.
So long as linocut inspiration keeps striking, I'd love to have an entire wardrobe of me-made, me-printed garments. I still love my vintage pieces but these days something like this feels so much more authentic.