Tonight I couldn’t sleep. I woke at 2:30 am and lay in bed, then throught I may as well get up. This happens to me sometimes, and I find it best to read or even knock off an item or two on my todo list until I get tired again. There were no demons this time, just sleeplessness. I went downstairs and on a whim opened the front door of the house. I stepped outside. We have a small courtyard in front with a stucco wall around it, a couple of lawn chairs and a huge magnolia tree. I sat down. From that perspective you can’t see the neighboring houses over the wall, just sky. An infinity courtyard, more or less. I looked up into the tree. One or two stars were poking through the branches. The air was fresh and cold. I could hear cars, but not often.
What has this to do with fatherhood? Nothing. Everything.
I could feel Nick and Nora sleeping behind me. It reminded me of Danse Russe, the William Carlos Williams poem. The thing is, if there’s no spaciousness in my life, then I have none to offer Nick. A todo list isn’t enough to connect me to the things of this world, to my place in it. I need to feel myself here in my body. God peeking through the magnolia tree in front. Nick and Nora behind. Myself in the middle and awake.
It was unbearable, really. I sat there as long as I could stand it, until the urge to write it all down overpowered me, and I went back inside.
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Painting credit: The reproduction above is “The Empire of Light” by Rene Magritte. I had to to look at it long and long the first time before I understood what made it so weird. It’s a daytime sky. But it’s night around the house.