Infinite Morning: Waking Up With the World

Sunrise over Monument Valley--this is the best I've seen.

It was the morning of my first day of middle school. I had just woken up and was thrashing through a heap of clothes on the floor, searching for the right shirt and the right shorts to wear. I wanted to be cool, because you were supposed to be cool in middle school. Somewhere, from someone, you were supposed to have learned what to wear, how to walk, how to talk, and by then you should have known to throw in a cuss word and a “dawg” here and there when conversing with your peers. I had yet to learn any of these important lessons, least of all what clothing pre-teens considered cool. I decided on a Michael Jordan theme because I was twelve and Michael Jordan was cool. That morning I dressed in Michael Jordan shorts, a Michael Jordan T-Shirt, and Air Jordan basketball shoes. I slung my backpack over my shoulder and left the house in my Jordan attire.

It was late August in Austin and the muggy air clung to my skin as I walked toward my bus stop half a mile away. I noticed then that the air carried the sounds of my neighborhood a little better than at other times of day. I heard the cars streaming down Slaughter Lane. I heard the squeal of their brakes, the barking of their horns, and the screaming of their tires on the pavement. I could make out disembodied voices floating on the breeze. “See you this evening,” said one. “Remember your lunch,” said another. “Go to hell,” yelled a woman’s voice from a house somewhere down the street. With each step I took the volume rose all around me. The gaps between sounds shrunk until they merged into one loud murmur. I remember thinking that the world was waking up with me and that the cacophony around me was the earth issuing a long sigh as it shook off a night’s slumber.

I liked waking up to go to school because then, in the early morning, I felt in tune with the world, as if we breathed together and moved together. Every little act gained in meaning and significance when I realized that I did it in concert with the whole of creation. Sometimes I felt like I stood on the back of a giant whose size and shape I could only guess at. When the giant moved, I moved. When the giant stopped, I stopped. If I fell out of synch, if the giant sneezed and I failed to sneeze along with him, I would tumble off into the abyss.

There are days now, eighteen years later, when I wake up and I feel the same sense of synchrony with the world. I walk out the door and the car horns, the squealing brakes, the disembodied voices float to me on a light breeze. Again the saturated air clings to me and again it’s as if the world is waking up along with me. When this happens I’m both here, going to work, and there, a twelve-year-old kid walking to the bus, afraid of being unpopular. I’m also a teenager waking up early on another muggy morning to play basketball with some friends. And I’m a twenty-year-old college student dangling my legs from a cliff in Yosemite National Park. The sun is rising and throwing dagger-shaped shadows across the valley a mile below me. A smell of pine permeates the air. Again I feel that I’m sitting atop a giant whose form remains a mystery. Again I feel that we breathe as one. We move as one.

These experiences exist outside of time. They can be packed into an instant like a trillion particles crammed into a singularity a moment before the Big Bang. All of them are there, together, in the same space, in the same mental moment, occurring forever.

About atomsofthought
Photographer. Traveler. Writer. Reader.

11 Responses to Infinite Morning: Waking Up With the World

  1. anda says:

    excellent description of the mystery of what comprises the present moment.

  2. Pamanner says:

    Wow, great imagery! Have you read Dandelion Wine??? Reminds me of Bradbury’s masterpiece πŸ™‚

    • I take that as a HUGE compliment! Thank you so much πŸ™‚ I have read Dandelion Wine and I love it. It’s one of my favorites by Bradbury. To say he has influenced my writing would be an understatement πŸ™‚

      • skippingstones says:

        You have his gift with words, with fitting just the right description and flexing the words in just such a way. But there is something of pessimism in his work. I have sometimes felt a darkness in your words, but you turn the piece around in the end and close it on an optimistic note.

        • I think you’re absolutely right about Bradbury. There is pessimism in his work, but it’s mixed with this zest for life and the purest sort of curiosity… and quirkiness that he isn’t ashamed of. Somehow it makes perfect sense that the man is still alive and writing at almost ninety years old: he never grew up πŸ™‚

        • Oh, and thank you for the compliment. I’d be happy to achieve a hundredth of Bradbury’s quality and success πŸ™‚

  3. Very well-expressed.

  4. skippingstones says:

    I didn’t comment on this when I read it, but it keeps drawing me back. I keep thinking about lives lived in other rooms, about being alone and silent, but completely content, of hearing other people through an open window and knowing that life is being lived all over the planet.

  5. Lisa Chinn says:

    Gorgeous picture! Your writing really captures why it feels important to wake up in the morning instead of sleeping in.

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