Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Darkness

I wake up each morning of the late fall, winter, and early spring to darkness. It is difficult to get my body up and moving because it naturally believes that the bed is a better place to be than up and about turning on lights and starting the day. And so I lie in bed thinking of reasons to get up while my muscles and inertia provide me with much more compelling reasons to stay prone, to stay still, and to stay warm. Because on top of the darkness there is cold weather coming. Soon enough, there will be snow and likely lots of it adding tasks to my morning: shovel or snow-blow, scrape the car and start it warming, make extra coffee to ward off the chill. 

That darkness has a habit of sneaking inside of me. I get to thinking about all of it and start to worry. I think that it will be too much for me. Look, I think, I'm only just barely getting everything done now; how can I hope to get it all done when the winter comes? It's the kind of question that stops me and sends me into a spasm of planning and calculating but almost always ends up in more anxiety and despair.

So it goes with relationships. Sometimes I get to despairing about my daughters or my wife or the state of our house. I pile it on and think for sure that I have reached my limit and things are about to fly apart. I think that way often and yet things haven't flown apart, the kids are alright (just as Pete Townshend promised), my wife and I are still in love, and though the house is a general mess it has yet to fall down.

Morning eventually comes. It is only 6:15. I will survive until 7:15 when the light starts to come up. I will get myself ready and out the door. I will arrive at work on time. At work I will get done what I need to get done. These are the facts of my experience and, if I apply logic to the situation, I know that they outweigh the notions of my imagination.

Yesterday, after I had published my entry and was writing back to student papers, I stopped to think about all that I had to do. Yesterday was also the beginning of NaNoWriMo and I'm trying to do that too. I calculated how many words I'm going to need to write each day, how many for the month, and so on. I started to worry about the time it would take me. The darkness came down on me as surely as if the Central New York cloud cover were blotting out the sun. I pushed the thought back in my mind and kept going. Soon enough, the kids papers were all commented on, I had written in my notebook with them, and it was time to crank out some words on NaNoWriMo. As I ate my lunch and typed, I let myself become lost in the story I was typing. You can guess what happened: the clouds lifted, the sun came out, and I had 2500 words on the computer toward my 50,000-word goal.

I suppose I'm trying to make several points and mostly make them to myself. Sure, it's dark as can be outside. It's as dark now as it was at midnight and just as cold. But I'm awake, I've already gotten the dishwasher unloaded, my lunch made, and six hundred words typed. None of that just happened and yet all of it just happened. Sure, I decided to do all of it, I made that choice, but having made those choices and begun each task, it's as if they did them themselves. It was nothing to unload the dishwasher and I was thinking about things the whole time. I was living inside my mind doing a mindless task. Then I made my lunch and while I did that I was thinking about some of what I've written here and processing a troubling event from yesterday. The cat meowed from the table and for a moment I devoted myself to her, thinking about nothing but the softness of her fur, the movement of her head. Then, when other tasks were taken care of, I sat to type this, put a heading on it, and went to work. Throughout the writing of this I have been thinking of nothing but the words. But, and this is the nice part, I've simply been thinking about what I want, what I need, what I hope to understand, and putting that down on the screen. The result is that I feel like I understand a bit more, I have a bunch of things taken care of for today, I'm on time to get to work, and though it's just as dark outside, inside I feel much brighter and ready to go.

It took choosing to do things and then allowing myself to do them. Who would have thought it could be so easy.

Write on.