Monday, November 18, 2013
Four Thirty in the Morning -- November
The house is cool, quiet, and dark. To my right, my wife's hair sleeps between my fingers. She slumbers on her side, and I can see her ribs rise and fall with breath. I want to run my hand along her hip, but decide not to wake her.
Simone, the cat, lies on the other side. She is awake too, and purrs. We keep company in these early hours.
She has stayed close lately. A bobcat took our chickens and gave her notice that the fenced-in yard is not the safe territory it might have seemed before. I come home sometimes, and her hackles are up as she stares through the plastic cat door.
November waits outside for me too. In five days I will ride another El Tour de Tucson. I have lost count, but it has been close to thirty times that I have engaged in this fall ritual that serves as the center axis of my physical life.
Friends I have ridden with are now gone. The ride is reminder of finality, limitation, mortality. And it is full of life, the body operating to its fullest capacity. It is hard for my brain to hold the truth of this paradox, with all of its equally true, contradictory facts. I fear the danger. I love to feel fully alive. The danger seems to grow as the years go on, and my strength begins to wain.
As I sink into the cycling community I see how limited my abilities are. So many have gifts that I will never know. They can sustain intense efforts of high heart rates, and the speeds that go with them, for hours on end. I red-line long before they do and fall off the back. I watch the gap between us build until they are out of sight.
This year, I am part of a group that will serve a cancer patient in what might be his last cycling event. He wants to go fast, and we will help him. He wants to finish with elite level cyclists, the platinum riders, who will ride over a hundred miles in under five hours. I want to help him, but doubt my abilities. I have signed up to do something I may not be able to do.
Fears and worry surface at four thirty for some reason.
Then, there are the other phantoms that want attention. My work as a writer has not been going well. I have not fed the ideas, put in the time, surrendered to the projects in the ways they need to thrive. Time is passing. I know that opportunities are limited. I fear I have let myself and my students down.
Four thirty marks the pivot point of the day. How I frame my role, imagine how it will go, determines, in part what will happen. I am tempted to run away, to go back to sleep.
I know my heart sends these fears as messengers and reminders of what it is that my heart desires. They have grown large because I have missed the mark in how I have acted in the light. In the light, I have avoided these questions because they interfere with the world of rent and work. I have compromised, at best, or betrayed, at worst, my heart's desires for comfort. I am afraid to immerse myself in the restless sea of my life's callings. I have been told too many times that it is impossible, that I have to be practical. Because I can, I believed the in no.
Here in the quiet darkness the desires some come again to visit. They have not given up.
I have the choice to turn away, to leave the work to someone else, to push aside the questions and to rationalize or distract or hope for a miracle pill, or to turn toward them. They loom large and appear bigger now, in the dark. But it is here where we meet.
Thank you for waking me dear friends, visitors from someplace as necessary to my soul as it is forgotten.