I know that it’s been a few days. I know, because when I was young someone taught me how to read a calendar, how to count suns and moons, how to divide the grand scope of time into more manageable sizes. I know how to fill an hour and I know how to waste a moment. I know the nagging feeling that there is more I could have done.
But mostly I know that I haven’t been writing because I can feel it in my bones. Or perhaps my heart, or gut, or – if you’re feeling brave – what one might call the soul. I know it’s what woke me up at 2am this morning, tired of waiting for me to recognize gentle reminders, demanding my attention. “Open the page and write,” it cried.
I have been sad enough, and lucky enough, to hear this voice before. I have been wise enough, on occasion, to listen.
I remember a time, years ago – which I know from marking off the days – when I awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of something calling. No one else could hear it. Or if they could, it didn’t stir loudly enough inside of them to force them from their beds and join me outside, where I sat and stared at the moon. If it wasn’t full, it was close to it, which is another feeling I have known.
I was in the Himalayas at the time. I had never been, and have never been since, closer to the sky. Or myself. Or a particular kind of unlonely solitude. Or – if you’re feeling brave – inner peace.
It was the middle of the night, or the beginning of the morning, depending on where you were taught to draw those lines. The air was thick, heavy with scent and sentiment. “Open your lungs and breathe” a voice cried. I listened. I divided the world down into a more manageable size.
Inhale the life that is just now beginning. Exhale the disappointments of the life now gone. Each breath its own preface and epilogue. Each cycle its own birth and death. Each moment its own moon, coming and going, rising and falling, ebbing and flowing. The air lay bittersweet upon my tongue.
And when I had emptied all of my thoughts onto the vast page of the sky, and made room for something new, I went back inside and put on my shoes. “Now, open the door and go.”
So I did. I walked and then ran, down the winding roads of the mountains, into the early morning light. People emerged from their houses. They smiled and waved hello. I could feel their sweetness in my bones. There was no better way to fill those hours. There was nothing more we could have done.
All my life I have been lucky enough to have a voice. It speaks endlessly of gratitude and love. It arrives in every moment in the grand scope of time, demanding my attention. It wakes me when I haven’t even noticed I’m asleep.
“Open your eyes and see,” it cries. “Open your heart and live.” I know that you can hear it too. And – if you’re feeling brave – you can listen.