Silent. Empty. Still.
I love the hour just before dawn. I stand at the window, in the dark, looking out on an empty street, absent the distractions of work or children or spouses - still and silent moments of contemplation, when time seems for a short while to have little meaning; when my inner thoughts and being are almost in a state of abeyance. It is then that sometimes I feel that almost breathless sense of expectancy, when it seems as if surely there is more on the way besides just a new day. That something momentous will be occurring at any moment, if I just happen to be looking in the right direction at the right instant.
Now and again I will imagine that other people who are wakeful in these early hours share these unformed expectations, our thoughts seeking out the profound depths within ourselves before bouncing out to reverberate deep within the consciousness of others. As if, if we could just postpone the dawn for a few more minutes, just long enough to enter into the right frame of mind, twist ourselves into exactly the right pose, meditate ourselves into that one precise state of being, do something, anything... an entirely new world might be handed to us. If only.
But… the first glints of the sun become visible on the horizon. The birds begin their early morning songs and greetings, drawing our attention outward to the present. Children begin to awake, their small-person selves requiring love and attention. Doors slam, signaling the beginning of daily commutes to placate the gods of responsibility and duty and mortgages. And the moment is lost.
For now, anyway. Maybe next time, you think, I can capture that ephemeral promise and hold on tight.
I believe that it is in that brief hiatus, when our world is still and silent - empty of all but ourselves - when we are cocooned in the safety of darkness and inwardly hollow and receptive, that the seeds of our life's dreams are planted. Not a hurried, frantic cacophony of thoughts and images, as sometimes is the effect of "What can I do in my life?" brainstorming sessions, as if to be the biggest, best, first on the market, get the biggest share of the pie and worry about the rest later were the only worthy goals.
No, these dawn thoughts tend to drift along winding paths down which we normally would merely ... dream... we could go. Lush, verdant, drowsy wanderings in a world that could be. Rambling explorations of often-unacknowledged hopes and aspirations, beguiling chimeras that vanish if looked at too suddenly.
The closer we get to sunrise, however... to the full exposure of day, our first-light visions hasten away, seeking cover, so as not to leave us vulnerable. Our fancies that before lead us to the banks of a stream that looked so smooth and shallow and narrow in our half dreaming state, enticing us to take the little steps necessary to cross it, now seem to have abandoned us on the shores of a mighty river that broadens and becomes choppier and deeper the higher the sun rises in the sky; the great River OhBut.
Oh, but I have no talent. Oh, but I have no time. Oh, but no one believes I can do it. Oh, but... the river is too wide, and I have more sense than to try to cross it.
Who says common sense always has to have the last word?
It just may be that the secret of capturing the promise of the dawn is to believe in the nonsensical. The unrealistic, even the fantastic. To drag our early morning dreams out of the shadows, into the realm of possibilities. Only there will they find power and substance and durability.
They are always there, you know, congregating in the corners of our daily lives, nudging here or there, seeking the best opportunity to drop into our minds and say, "Remember me? I'm the you you want to be." You know, those little "What I really want to do is ... oh, but..." thoughts. In the top offices of the highest buildings, at kitchen tables, in classrooms, at daycare centers, in a carwash, serving up hamburgers through a drive thru window, driving a tractor... thoughts of what could, should, might be are pushed away daily.
I am too busy, too important, too insignificant, too frazzled, too afraid, too poor, too rich, too complacent, too tough, too weak, too smart, too dumb, too settled, too flighty... and the river is too wide.
One has to wonder what could be accomplished if we just took the time to build a bridge?
Do I have the answers? No. Not your answers, not my answers, either. I do know the questions are there, though, and that seems like a good first step.