When Someone Asks How You Are, Maybe You Should Tell Them
I like to wake up early. Before 5:00 is best, when the air is a smudge away from nighttime. It feels sacred, undiscovered.
I go outside, yawning and stumbling on leftover dreams. The dog glows with happiness at being alive and moving. All the edges are soft.
I walk down the road into the darkness of the trees. The shadows deepen and my breath always catches in an instant of halting panic. What is it about darkness that makes us afraid?
It’s only the first few steps that scare me. Once I’m under the trees, their shadows feel kind. Their branches arc over the road and create space within space. I breathe deep. As I move down the road, the light begins to grow.
The small hum in my chest gathers itself into a force and begins to be beautiful, exhilarating. If I do this first, before the buzz and roar of the world begins, I can feel that force fully, can breathe it in and out, can meet the day led by my own authority rather than by expectations and reactions.
(I may not last long in the self-governed state of awareness, but it’s good to start there.)
The day erupts into itself. What a rush to see the thousand streams of our daily lives intersecting: in street corners and doorways, spoken and unspoken greetings, pounding bass lines from car windows, over cups of coffee, eyes meeting, energy drawn up and out, passed from one to another to another to another to another.
We do this day after day, all of us together, in a shared dance of self-created reality. It can be joyful, fulfilling. It can make us feel utterly alone.
We look at each other but don’t see. We smile but don’t mean it.
We say, “I’m fine, how are you?” and don’t talk about the real things, whatever they are: financial strain or devastation, unsatisfying relationships, continual worry over our kids or our parents or the planet, the heavy decisions we have to make, the lack of options, the job that isn’t there, the salary that holds us prisoner, or the fact that we’ve barely got our shit together once again.
If we can’t name those things, those material-temporal things, we’ll never name…