The NightIt's 3 am and I'm unable to sleep. I've just finished reading a book by CBS correspondent Morley Safer. It ends, as many memoirs do, with a bittersweet closing that has captivated me and makes me want to savor the quiet of the night.
I think of all the times I've been in situations like this. Unable to find sleep. Sitting in an empty room bathed in soft light. Early in the morning. Writing away to fill the hours until sunrise. This morning the lights of Northern California are out my window. In other times it could have been the lights of Athens or Paris or Rio. I produced some of my best work in those quiet, empty spaces, but over the years I've given most of it away or lost it through an endless series of moves.
The writing kept me sane then, as it does now, and brought me the things that I most value in life. It was in some of those rooms that I wrote long letters to friends, telling stories and throwing out ideas, not caring whether they would answer, just to have a conversation. In other rooms I composed letters to Marcia, whom I would eventually marry. She claims our courtship via mail swept her off her feet - something that I'm sure that I could have never done in person by going to dinners or movies or by just talking with her. Eloquence doesn't come easy for me. There's no way to edit.
I've always strongly valued my solitude. It has been my closest ally in what has sometimes been a tumultuous life. Though I've spent much of it writing, sometimes I've just taken it raw, as it comes.
On Midway Island, in the middle of the Pacific, I remember a walk along the beach to watch the waves wander in and the nesting Gooney Birds tend their young. On backpacking trips I've marveled at the incredible number of stars there are in the skies away from the city. As a teenager I sometimes spent time fishing in a lake in my backyard, staring for long minutes at a bobber floating on the dark and glassy surface. It didn't matter whether I caught anything, so long as I could savor the time alone.
It's one of those mornings this morning and I think I will savor it too - with a cool drink and a chair on my porch where I can watch the lights of the sleeping and enjoy myself once again.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, July 09, 2005