Friday, July 15, 2011

Out of the Cave and into the Light

It's 6 AM on a Friday and I haven't slept yet. I've spent the night marking assignments and as the glow through my curtains grows ever brighter, I start to prep myself to turn in. I have an evening class tonight and no other commitments, so I can sink into sleep guilt free and oblivious.

Except the guilt is always tugging my stomach into knots; I know my schedule is haphazard and unproductive and there isn't a day that goes by where I don't wonder why I can't just pull myself together.

Night: the isolation and silence it brings is a simultaneous source of solace and desperate anxiety. I've functioned on the theory that my creativity peaks at 3 AM when the first bird of the morn starts trilling from the pine tree outside my window. After hours of sitting alone in my room staring at a largely blank word document, that first sweet warble careening through the thick silence of a suffocating night sets off a panic button in my brain. What have you done? What have you accomplished? Another wasted night? Do something. Do something! And then out of plain desperation I'm suddenly focused and everything is razor sharp; all the mind wandering of the night suddenly connects into an electrified purging of productivity. I like what I see appearing on the screen before me and in a while go to bed on a bit of a foggy high. I'm not useless. I can do things.

But this hasn't happened in a long time. More often than not, I go to bed with a dead weight in my chest because I know I've wasted yet another night. Call it avoidance, my inability to focus, jitters, fear, lack of discipline, the last curve in a downward spiral--whatever it is, it leaves me with the bitter, bitter taste of waste--and without fail, the sense that I'm a little bit hopeless.

But still, as I doze off I always think, tomorrow, tomorrow things will be different.

So it's 6 AM on a Friday and yet again, I haven't stuck to my hopeful schedule and have dug myself into a world of marking hell. All I want to do is swivel the fan toward my face, slip under the covers, and just sleep. Already I hear myself saying that tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow I'll mark responsibly, happily even. Tomorrow will be the beginning of a new day and I'll ride out in glory because tomorrow doesn't have the stench of failure; tomorrow is bright and sweet.

I click on the song "The Cave" in my playlist to help me exert the last bit of energy needed to pack up my papers and set everything I need by the door so that when I wake up, I'll need minimal brain power to get myself ready and out of the house. It's a song by a band a friend introduced to me a short time ago and I've played it a few times and enjoyed it, but as I stand there about to kick open my comforter, everything suddenly makes every bit of brilliant sense.

The video for the song features band members riding around on motorbikes/vespas somewhere in India and the image--the bright heat, the bikes curving along dirt roads in a golden haze--it's visual freedom. It's suffocating in anger and bitterness, fault and blame--and then breaking free and screaming in/for hope. It sounds repulsively melodramatic, but feels achingly real and true.

And I think, 'why not now? Why can't tomorrow be now?'

Call it a sleepless high, but in moments I'm changing out of my pajamas into my everyday clothes and heaving my bike out the door. I need this resurgence to be physical, representative, but physical; I want the morning to hit my face and make me feel like I'm flying; I want to literally ride out into glory. The glory of doing things, of beginning. Tomorrow can begin right now.

And so I slam the door shut, hop on my bike, and go.

Image: Taken on my Lumix on July 15th, 2011 at Erindale Park.

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