Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Awake in the Wee Hours

At 2:13 in the morning, the mind that is too busy to sleep wins its battle with the body that is too tired to stir. I lie awake and my mind frantically generates thoughts and ideas. Some are sentimental, some biting, some gentle, some serious, some wistful, some humorous, some poetic, some witty, some effervescent, and some maudlin. They are wonderful ideas, and for the next forty-five minutes, my mind churns out verses, sentences, paragraphs and pages of scintillating prose and poesy, rhymed and unrhymed, silly and profound.

Six hours from now, when I sit at the computer, the ideas will have lost their luster. The words that now sparkle with the liveliness of a cascading stream, and the words that flow with the languid beauty of a river on a summer’s day will later spread across the page like scum on a stagnant pond. I know this will happen. It always does. By three in the morning, when my mind begins to tire and the surge of ideas becomes a trickle, I wonder if there is a program that can transfer tonight’s musings from my head to the computer and then be retrieved at a decent hour. And I wonder if it would make any difference. Are these nocturnal notions as dazzling they seem? Or are my powers of discernment too tired in the middle of the night to be discerning?

My mind has worn itself out and longs for rest. Fall is approaching, the window is open and the air conditioner is off. The quiet of the night is not the same as the quiet of the day. It is softer and more comfortable. The leaves rustle in the gentle breeze; enjoyable white noise, unlike the refrigerator that I noticed only when it shuts off. The dog across the street barks for a minute or two. And a critter, probably a raccoon, pushes a tin can around as it searches through the garbage for a bite to eat. It doesn’t stay long. Maybe it doesn’t like the selection and is going away hungry and unhappy. A siren, faint at first, gets louder and then fades as a police car races along Route 20. Two CSX freight trains, one eastbound, the other headed west, scream at each other as they approach Columbus Avenue. There is a great rumbling and clanking of metal as the trains pass, followed by a moment of silence before one of the trains sounds its horn at another crossing. Then all is quiet.

The air is cooler now, and I curl up on my side and pull the blankets over my shoulder and fall asleep. For three hours, leaves rustle, cops chase, dogs bark, scavengers scavenge and trains rumble, but I am unaware of it all until the radio comes on at 6:15.

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