In the wee small hours of the morning

4:12. That’s what the clock read when I rolled into alertness this morning. I groaned, knowing from the experience of the last few weeks that would not be falling back to sleep before my alarm was set to go off, nearly two hours later.

In addition to the numerous physiological benefits of sleep, I wonder if we are also wired to sleep at night for a mental reason: the wee small hours are when the crazy comes out. I’m ok with questions. I ask a lot of them, I don’t mind answering them, and I’m willing to live with them. They’re easier to deal with in the daylight than in the dark of night, when the street lamp that shines in my window doesn’t cast enough light to reveal any answers.

Am I on a good path? Are there changes I should be embracing that I fear? Can I live with vulnerability? Are there mistakes in my past that I don’t even know are mistakes yet, but that I will pay for later? Do I believe the things I want to believe? Is there a difference between believing and wanting to believe? How much of my life has been about choosing the good and how much has been about avoiding the fear, that same fear that finds me at five in the morning anyway?

As I tossed and turned, an art song was running through my head. I kept repeating the last few lines: its beautiful, melodic conclusion. I am learning this piece for a recital, and like all the songs I have programmed I am getting to know it, discovering where it goes and how it gets there. By the time I perform I will know the music cold. I will know how it ends, and all I’ll have to do is try to tune my final notes to create the perfect resolution.

I turned that resolution over and over in my mind early this morning. Life can’t be as predictable as music. My love of order has encouraged me to avoid dissonances and rhythmic incongruity. I’ve ordered my existence to follow a melody I recognize.

But in the wee small hours I start to compose key changes. I don’t know on what chord I’ll resolve or what harmonic shifts it will take to get there. I suppose the only control I have is to pray, as I did in the dark, for the courage and self-knowledge to keep singing in tune.

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5 Responses to In the wee small hours of the morning

  1. Preston says:

    I was always haunted by the lyric from a Bright Eyes song: “What’s so simple in the moonlight by the morning never is.” I wonder if there are temperaments for this. My questions, my crazy, are normally more in the light of day. In the night I feel less agonized, even in those hours when I wake up around three in the morning wide-eyed and alert. I find myself quiet. It’s the afternoons that bring out the uncertainty. The quiet aloneness in the midst of all those people. That’s when doubt creeps in. Maybe because I expect the aloneness in the wee hours, in the dark, that there’s no room in my mind to create the questions. It’s in the midst of the fullness of the light, when there is emptiness as well, that I begin the dialogue of our is to wonder why …

    Hm, I wonder if there’s some kind of personality element at play in all this.

    • felicemifa says:

      Insightful and well-written comment as always. My guess is in a few years you will develop the coping mechanism of filling your days with activity to distract you from everything else, like the rest of us (that is equal parts sarcasm and honesty).

      “It’s in the midst of the fullness of the light, when there is emptiness as well, …” I had a teacher once describe a particular composer this way: His music is sad when there is nothing to be sad about. Is there anything more melancholy than that?

      • Preston says:

        I wondered if it was something to do with age, but in the time since writing that comment and now I’ve come to a different opinion. I’ve been reading L’Engle’s “Walking on Water” and have come across a similar feeling she has. I am learning that my questioning and struggle is less to do with questions and struggles in the sense of doubts and uncertainty. Rather, I have never felt whole. She writes about a certain kind of artistic temperament that always is groping for something more, not selfishly, but earnestly, because there’s a need for wholeness. I realize now, looking back, that this was the underlying message of the short story I wrote a few weeks ago about the amputee girl without even realizing that was what I was getting act. But it’s to do with the sense of not being fully whole that makes me question and wrestle. And I think I’m starting to understand that it’s not a bad thing. I need to move away from measuring this struggle against people who don’t know what it is to feel, and not just a moment but their entire lives, not quite whole. It’s not a depression or a sadness, or an added presence of loneliness that can be dismissed. It is noticeable absence, something missing, that for whatever reason God has seen fit to keep me in wanting of, because it spurs me to create. It’s like the finger nail of God that scratches against my soul, drawing me into deeper story, for in story there is the chance to overcome that lack, that amputated part. Though amputated is the wrong word, because I don’t think this is something I had and then lost. I think I never had it and that was the point, that was His point, because not having it made me create. Create again and again.
        And now I’ve rambled.

  2. Pingback: Hitting Pause: In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning | Felice mi fa

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