Sunrises, Driving and Other Good Things

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A message to myself this morning: watch more sunrises. Sunsets I’m good at. I’m already awake. Early mornings, I love them; but I’ve always been a late night soul who never turns down a good sleep that carries a little further into morning. My new job has required my presence during sunrises as I drive to work, and for the past three months I’ve been kindly reminded of how calming this simple act of the day beginning is. Today there is no work for me. It’s my husband who had to drive off at 5:00AM, down a Wichita road to get to the work that brought us here, and therefore I was tempted to go back to the cozy pile of blankets on the hotel bed and settle back into comfortable sleep. The cool morning air was too inviting though. The fact of my fourth decade on this planet having arrived (so suddenly it seems) brought up thoughts again of time, seasons, numbers on calendars—should I live even forty more years, that’s only forty more summers, forty more autumns and winters and springs. It’s quite a few sunrises and sunsets, rainstorms and snowy days, but still there’s an exact number, one that’s less than it was in 2000, in 1990, in 1975. If I live less than forty more years, fifty? Well, simply put, that’s quite a few less of everything.

Coffee pot on and brewing, I slipped my sandals back on, zipped up my jacket. Coffee creamer and sugar deployed into coffee, me and my Styrofoam cup headed outside to the hotel back parking lot and the staircase to the second floor balcony area.

All it takes to understand a sunrise is silence and stillness. Sit quietly, sit still. Watch how the sky changes color perceptibly as you rotate into another day. You’ll feel like you know a little more about beauty and existence. Wichita is a flat city with an expansive horizon; the hotel we’re in is next to a neighborhood and a shopping center, and there are no tall buildings crowded into the scenery to obscure the sky. The oranges and pinks beginning to poke through dark patches of sky spread gracefully along the horizon, overtaking the area the hotel is placed within. A rooster begins calling out somewhere in the neighborhood of brick houses and cared for lawns. Not being in the country and among farmhouses, I’m not expecting a rooster; he’s a bonus to an idyllic morning.

I walk in the parking lot, and along the street near homes that are mostly still dark inside. This is the third time in two years we’ve been in this city and at this hotel and I feel well enough at home. Later we will drive, moving onto another city before resting for the night and continuing again to Chicago come morning. It was just two months ago that we last drove to big and full and energetic Chicago. I know I’ll want to keep driving next week after we’ve pulled into our own sweet city, even though I know I’ll love being home in the city where we sleep and work and have family and take walks and drink coffee and pray and do all manner of things that make up our daily lives.

How many drives and other trips can I take while still here, hugging this globe as a living presence among all others? How much of everything can I see? From where else might I watch the sun’s setting and rising rituals take place? I don’t have an exact answer at this time, but I hope it’ll be many trips and places; so many that I could lose count, quantities harder to keep track of than seasons, than weeks and months and years on calendars. Tonight we’ll add to these numbers as we drive through Kansas and into Missouri. Tonight I will think about how the feeling of putting your bags into a car, or a bus or an airplane or a train, or fastening them to a motorcycle, is one that can be easily summed up as freedom. We’re no different than birds when we travel, we become loosened from one place as we’re given a big world with many corners and roads and climates to choose from. I’ll love being home, and I’ll appreciate every sunrise I watch from our own balcony. I’ll also be ready to pack the car again, watch through the windows while highways offer a little more of the world to us and all other travelers.

A message to myself and to you also: turn hope into an outcome by taking action, it’s as easy as starting with one foot and then the other as you walk further into your life, willing to act on the things that move you.

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