There is a calm certainty to the early morning hours here. The lights are dimmed and some new age electronic-based music or classical piece plays through the surround system. A cricket’s chirp carries through the walls from the darkness outside. There are memories stirring within; memories that have the same effect as perhaps a positive heart does on the brain. These specific memories have taught me lessons in my life with as much strength and unrelenting force as tides.
My parents took our family on a tour of a number of Civil War battlefields when I was young. I remember walking across the Appomattox Court House grounds and realizing just how stubbornly resistant to change we humans have been and can be. It reminds me still today of the great costs we continually suffer to invoke change even here in the year 2016.
I walked the grounds and toured Jefferson’s Monticello that same year as well as sat on the steps of the Rotunda on the campus of the University of Virginia pondering the possibilities and opportunities that we have inherited as a nation; a thought that crossed my mind again as I stood atop one of the World Trade Center Towers looking out across New York City. It was the first time I caught a glimpse of how high we as a people could climb both academically and architecturally. A few days later I stood on a boat in full rain gear breathing in the mists and riding the waves at the base of Niagara Falls. As high as we can climb, I can assure you, we can just as easily fall, and at the bottom there are very, very choppy waters.
Hiking into and out of the Grand Canyon twice in the same week in my twenties taught me a lot about that which can divide, but mostly about the incredible amount of strength and effort it takes to climb out of the crevasses we sometimes walk into. And in Alaska, I once sat on the wooden deck of a wannigan, floating in the back of some bay on Prince William Sound. It was an amazing moment, watching the thin clouds lift just above the trees as if the trees were exhaling. It was among the cleanest and freshest air I have ever breathed. But that was then, I think, as I return to the present. This is now.
As the rising sun relieves the sky of night, the mood shifts from a quieter contemplative mode to one of being wide awake. With a simple voice command the sounds of Jimi Hendrix light up the living room. I open the windows to let the sound flow out and the fresh air flow in. Sunrise signals the lights to turn off and I sit to think a bit on the idea that all living organisms might be quantum machines, interacting in fields that we as a whole have thus far failed to completely understand; or perhaps better said, “some” have failed to understand completely, anyway.
There is no lack of inspiration on this morning as I watch the steam lift from the hot cup of tea I’ve placed on my writing table. I think once again about those clouds lifting just above the trees in Alaska. With a humble smile, I’m finally ready to write.