I’ve been paying attention, the last few mornings, to the sunrise. I’ve broken the waking-up routine that normally follows my abrupt coming to the surface of reality by getting out of bed and, before doing anything else, opening the blinds on one window. For three mornings in a row I’ve stood there in my nightgown, bare arms breaking out in a rash of chill bumps, and squinted at the first beams of daylight like a newborn pup.
I couldn’t tell you why. Honestly. I have no idea why it has suddenly become the thing to do, this bearing witness to the breaking of day.
What I can tell you is that the first couple of mornings I was just quietly awe-struck, but the third morning — well, the third morning was different. Because the third morning, the sky, instead of being streaked with its usual blood-orange and gold, was layered with hues of lavender. Closest to the horizon was a band of color very close to that of spring’s first irises. Above that was a swath of wisteria-hued mist, above that something akin to the shade of hydrangea that grew outside Aunt Tooster’s house when I was a little girl. And above that, stretching up and out and over everything that is, was the very palest silvery gray.
A few days earlier I had heard someone on the radio talking about a current off-Broadway play that examines the idea of living in the present, appreciating the immediate moment, something like a 21st-century riff on “Our Town.” The title of the play, as I heard it, was “Now Hear This!” and, in the nanosecond it took me to absorb and process the words, I thought it an appropriate title — a directive, a command, an order one dare not disobey.
The voice on the radio explained, however, that the title of the play is actually “Now. Here. This.”
Now. This moment. Here. This place. This. This work to which I have put my hands, this face to which I have directed my gaze, this love to which I have devoted my heart.
This one. Not another one. This one. Not the one that used to be or might be one day. This one.
Perhaps that contemplation was still lingering as I stood at the window watching the sky lighten. Perhaps that is why I did not — as I am wont to do in such moments — reach for the camera in what would be a futile attempt to capture the colors. Perhaps that, not the chill, is what moved me to wrap my arms around myself and hold tight. Now. Here. This.
Between blinks of my near-sighted eyes, the colors began fading. The semicircle sun pushed its way into the day and I did, too. Dressed and drove across the newly deepened river to court. Manila folders and children in trouble and the language of the law became the now, the here, the this.
There is a temptation to linger in the lavender moments, to make them more than they are, to turn them into totems. One must be on guard, always, against the natural tendency toward tarrying until conscious living becomes unconscious languishing, against the propensity to seize the moment but never release it.
It is an unavoidable truth that now will become then, here will become there, this will become that.
The sun rose again today, its colors garnered from another part of the spectrum. They did not stretch out in layers, but spread in puddles over the trees, the fields, the grain bins. Another opportunity to stand at the window and stare. Another morning. This morning. This day. Now. Here. This.