Thursday, May 12, 2005

You twinkle above us, we twinkle below.

I’ve always been a morning person. Except I fucking hate waking up. The abrupt return to consciousness. The always-too-soon departure from the carefree realm of dreaming and repose...

But once that moment of unpleasantness has passed, I’ve always been the one to get up early and bound off to an energetic start to my day, much to the bewilderment (and sometimes dismay) of the other members of my inner circle.

When I was young, one of the reasons I looked forward to the visits of my paternal grandparents was because I knew that no matter how early I woke up in the morning, they’d always be up and ready to entertain me whenever I made my way downstairs through the silent and still-dark house. They were the only other early risers I knew, and their existence kept me from feeling like a total freak. (For that particular reason, anyway.)

Some of my favorite moments in life have occurred in the early morning hours, when it seems like I’m the only one awake. Such indescribable stillness and calm. And by being awake and bearing witness to that stillness, I also get to witness the slow awakening of everything else around me. The slow, daily dispersal of that stillness makes me really see it and appreciate it. And for those few moments, I feel truly still.

I can recall many such moments, each memorable for its own particular reasons. There was that morning in Florida, when I was seven or eight years old, up and out exploring on my own long before any discernible evidence of anyone else being out and about. I can still feel the way I felt at that moment, and smell the particular way the air smelled that morning. And to this day, when I sense a similar quality in the morning air, I am taken back to that morning in Florida, so many years ago.

I remember mornings in Paris and New York after having been out all night with friends, wandering around alone as the sun comes up over the city. I remember mornings being up before the sun to get a jump on long training rides, or long runs, and feeling the excitement and promise of what lay ahead. I remember mornings in Tahoe out on my own—mornings that felt like none I had ever experienced anywhere else. Mornings in Russia. Mornings in Africa. Mornings spent on the water and mornings spent on dry land. Each memory is its own. Each memory is unique. Even though it seems like, in the grand scheme of things, they shouldn’t be memories at all, seeing as how nothing really happened.

But I think those are the moments where everything happens.

Once, at the end of my senior year of Catholic high school, an all-night lock-in was organized by the school’s pastor as an opportunity for our class, as we stood at the threshold of our adult lives, to come together and reflect on the past four years. And although I wasn’t thrilled that the lock-in was to culminate in a sunrise mass (I’d never been religious, and had only landed at a Catholic high school as a result of unfortunate changes in our public school system), I looked forward to the opportunity to spend all night with my friends as we prepared for the emotionally taxing and exciting time of graduation.

And it was so much fun. We played volleyball. We chatted. We snacked on pizza and junk food. We napped on sleeping bags on the gym floor. We wandered the deserted hallways (although we had been forbidden to do so). And sometime before sunrise, we were (somewhat reluctantly) shuttled outside in our sweatshirts and blankets and seated in the grass on top of the hill upon which our school was situated, and from which we could see down into the surrounding darkness for miles and miles.

And as the sun slowly began its ascent, we talked a little and were quietly led through the parts of the mass by our pastor. But more than any of that, we were silent. And we sat and watched, and listened, and meditated on our surroundings, our past, our futures. And what started out as dark, and cold, and silent, slowly but surely became lighter, and warmer, and louder with the sounds of life, as birds awoke and began chirping and breezes began whispering and rustling the grass and the trees.

And without even knowing it was happening, that night-into-morning became one of my most beautiful and lasting memories. A vivid and pure reminder of the simplest cycle in what really is a simple and cyclical life.

And that has always been, and will always be, my religion.


Blogger E-E said...

I love it.
cyclical is the word of the day... ...thinking the same thing this a.m.!

10:10 AM  
Blogger E-E said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:12 AM  

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