Day 90: Gratitude for the Wee Hours

Sometimes I wake up at the tail end of the middle of the night.
Just before you’d have to call it morning.

If I lie in bed and fight it,
it’s usually a carnival ride of thoughts 
and tension, pointless meanderings of the mind.

So I get up. And either I write, as I’m doing now, 
or I choose somewhere else to put my Awake.

Sometimes I meditate.
I watch my thoughts

without naming them,
or pulling them close, or 
pushing them away.

Sometimes I hit youtube and go
like a mouse in a lab, clicking, clicking,
Ellen clips, Seth Meyers or Colbert,
Kathleen Madigan, Lewis Black, or the 
Buddhist teachers I love — Pema Chodron, 
Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, Noah Levine.
It can go on for a frightening length of time.

Sometimes I quilt.
The work is intricate and creative.
But it can also summon the very math skills 
you whined you’d never use “in real life.” 
That said, when I quilt, nothing else exists — 
not food, not time, not cold or heat. Nothing.

Sometimes I read.
I read books I bought because I thought I should.
Books that make me look good as a person, like
“The Art of Happiness,” by the Dalai Lama, or
“For a Future to be Possible,” by Thich Nhat Hanh.
I start reading, hoping it will be just far enough 
from what I’m really stimulated by that I’ll get sleepy 
and go back to bed, so I can wake at a normal hour.
But then the writing moves me, and I keep reading
till the alarm goes off.

Sometimes I watch educational seminars.
Not a good idea if I’m committed to getting 
back to bed any time soon, as it wakes up 
the party people in my brain, and once they get 
going, really nobody wants to stop. Ever.
But if I go there, I dive deep and keep going.

Sometimes if it’s safe, I slip outside for a walk. 
This is when I feel most held by the world.
Held in its hand, looked at, seen…by the sky,
the earth, the birds — who are only just then
yawning out of their sleeping places,
doing their pre-song vocal trills of the day.

There’s a deep intimacy to walking your 
own neighborhood when everyone else is asleep.
There are no cars on the road.
There are no weed whackers or snow blowers.
It’s just you and something unnameable.
Like you got a backstage pass to the day,
and the world is still in her jammies.

Walking this neighborhood at three
in the morning, I hold hands with that 
part of my life I never get to see because
we’re on different shifts. She’s already clocked
out, home, and crawling into bed just as I’m 
sipping coffee and turning on machines.

But on those nights when it’s 3:34am 
and I decide to meet the world outside,
me and that part of my life get to chat. 
She tells me her secrets, I tell her mine.
We keep saying we should get together
when our schedules match up
but we never do.
If we meet, it’s only ever been by accident…

So anyway, gratitude today for these wee hours
when my inmost life and I get to hang out for a while,
and the dark, wide world and I, just for the time being,
are on a first name basis.

I’m a patron of Ninja Writers, and this is part of the Medium Post-a-Day Challenge of blogging for 100 days. (This is Day 90.) If you enjoyed this, please let me know. Comment, or click on the clapping hands at left and give it some love, or share or follow me. And thank you so much for reading.