Hitting Pause: In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

In the spirit of giving myself a break, I have decided to hit pause on my blog and repost some of my favorite material for the last ten days of the year.

I wrote “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” in March of this year, when I was still coming to terms with the reality that this year was a lot of transition for me, a lot of adventures the conclusions of which I could not possibly know. So I lay awake at night and composed key changes, willing myself to follow the music wherever it led.

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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