Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Middle of the night


Billiant light penetrates through closed, sleeping eyes and then a cymbal crash of thunder assaults the ears. Awake! A necessary primitive fight-or-flight startle. But we're safely in a house, warm under the covers. Maybe we get up to let the cat in or close the windows, maybe we lie awake listening to continued storm noises, or maybe we fall back asleep quickly and easily. I have for years slept through storms and sometimes am astonished at the puddles or even the damaged trees, the ferocity that I have missed.

Other times, like last night, some unexpected internal lightening and thunder -- not a nightmare [or at least not a remembered one or even remnants of one] -- startled me awake. Not drowsily awake as happens when I've had sufficient sleep and am restless but relaxed. Rather a clear headed awakeness. I could have got up and read a book. But I felt something was asking to e considered although no big outstanding questions needed resolution, expect possibly writing a story that has been waiting to be written for a few years. I think the time has come to write it and determined -- between 12:55 and approximately 4:00 while I was awake -- to do just that.

I also puzzled, without resolution or additional insight about Jane Hirschfield's poem "Button". It had been discussed in a class in which one member who has done more research than I mentioned that she is a practitioner of zen meditation. I had found the first part of the poem clearly a zen state of mind, an ease with the is-ness of circumstance and condition. Her expression was serene and beautiful. But the last six lines took a turn, brought in hope -- which is desire, which is the root of all human unhappiness and the thing that the meditation is meant to banish. It seemed to be banished in the earlier part of the poem. Often I feel when I read poetry that I am following the writer's logic, that something may surprise me [I LIKE those surprises] but the surprising mental turns made sense, the poem becomes a revelation. So I lay in the dark, letting the bedside clock radio play for an hour, interweaving Brahms and Mendelsohn with my wide awake, questioning mental state.

It's axiomatic that older people often sleep badly. Most complain about it and worry about their wakefulness in the wee hours. My state of mind did not fit into that cliche. I was not bothered about being awake for I knew I could spend the day doing what I needed to do with out sleep. I felt, perhaps in a somewhat zen way, that it was okay, it was, for some reason necessary for me to be so wide awake and consumed with literary pondering. This seems to be a part of who I am at this stage -- I think those hours were a little like the hours when one might listen to an all night storm splashing against the windows and a wind howling around the corners of the house. Tomorrow, because today was busy with other things, I will begin writing that story. There was a thought whether it would be part of a novel, a bigger story. That remains to be seen.

2 comments:

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

June, i find that upon waking -- that the mind is so clear -- not yet filled with with the minutia of the day. Perhaps mornings are the best time to write? -- barbara

June Calender said...

Many people agree that morning is the best time to write, Barbara. It doesn't seem to make much difference to me.