At daybreak a couple of weeks ago, a neighbor left for work on his motorcycle. His loud motorcycle. He decided to jackrabbit onto the highway. My wife awoke, looked at the clock, swore at the motorcyclist, and went back to sleep. Having been awake prior to my neighbor’s hopefully brief return to adolescence, I merely hoped he had not awoken our then 9-month-old daughter and our 2-year-old son.
I had been awake since the birds began to greet the day and each other with their morning cacophony, which was about 4:30. After the motorcycle rocketed away, I continued to look at the ceiling and contemplate getting out of bed.
I have been sleeping in most mornings of late. Getting to bed at 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. probably has something to do with it. I am a night owl, yet I really enjoy waking up before dawn. In the early morning the house is quiet. The dogs are slumbering. The children are dreaming. My wife is at peace. It is the perfect time to write. Yet lately, my energy level is lacking.
A few months ago, I was awakening between 4:00 and 4:30 a.m. My son or youngest daughter was in the habit of waking up and crying between that time nearly everyday. I would get him back to sleep and then begin my day at the kitchen table. As I sipped coffee, I would work on my screenplay for two or three hours before leaving for work. It was a productive time. Some mornings I would write 10 pages of solid material. One morning saw 18 pages come to life. On average it was between four and eight pages.
Across a field, freight trains rumble past at the rate of about 100 per day. We became used to the diesel trains passing and rarely awoke from the pulse of their engines or blasts of their horns. In the pre-dawn blackness, the trains seemed almost other worldly, almost lumbering beast. Their headlights fixed on what lay ahead. Trains are much like time. The progression is forward and confined to the plane the rails keep them on. Some mornings I would move to the window and watch them. My subconscious would spin the beginnings of tales influenced by Stephen King novels. The tales would pass with the freight cars and I would return to writing.
We moved out of a rented house in the country, and with some help, back to a house in town that we have struggled to keep. We are contemplating moving into a large mobile home in the country. It is not exactly the move I would like to make, but it makes sense since it will save us money and give us more room than our present house. It also makes sense in that I am a more prolific writer when living in the country and tend to rise early.
There are trade offs in life. I know this well. In the past I have sold possessions that I did not want to part with in order to pay bills. Electric guitars, CDs, tapes, records, bootlegs, books, and even furniture have been given up in desperation. Unlike trains, I pass through this life not knowing with certainty my destination. There are no tracks to confine my journey. Only ideas, actions, inactions, and decisions to guide me. The direction is up to me. Even then, life can intercede with its own plans.
Such as a roaring motorcycle that awakens the neighborhood before dawn.