This morning, while I was slurping a cup of joe at the kitchen window, a childhood friend appeared at the top of the driveway. Jane in black leggings and I in bedhead, we caught eyes. She began to run in place and then surged in my direction like a spring bunny. Her cheeks were roses. She wrapped me in a vein-popping squeeze, gleaming with her runner’s high. She wore her mastery of the morning, and when I gleamed back at her, I wore the afterglow of something else.
Last night was typical. Members of my family retreated to their beds, tucked in before dusk with tools for reading and writing. Some use this time to get deservedly sleepy. For others, nocturnally private, the void is filled with creativity — an unfettered concentration zone for the selectively asocial. No phone, no mail, no bank, no store. No conversation, not a sound but for the barred owl. No compulsion to perform the duties of life. No obligations in this dependable reprieve. Night is a canyon for the self — time to be timeless, allowing ideas to appear delicately, unrushed and with independence.
After our hug, Jane rounded the park and I was back under the duvet with last night’s bursts. With night work comes the added promise of a morning discovery, and this was the time to check things over. In our pages, our sketches, our lists, our tracks, our glimmers, we hold the possibility of a golden nugget — a message from the darkness, to be fixed after brunch.
PS: “This is the night / That either makes me or fordoes me quite.” (William Shakespeare)
“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” (Saul Bellow)
Esoterica: The Morningness-Eveningness Questionaire, or MEQ was originated in 1976 by chrono-biologists J.A. Horne and O. Ostberg. It measures subjects’ circadian rhythms against answers to 19 multiple-choice questions such as, “What time would you get up if you were entirely free to plan your day?” Studies show that about 10% of us prefer the morning, and about 20% are bona fide night owls. The rest of us are somewhere in between, less rigid in our body clocks and perhaps less prone to insomnia, jetlag and depression. Researchers at Germany’s Aachen University scanned the brains of night owls and found a reduction in white matter — the stuff that functions as messenger of information to our cognitive grey matter. No matter, confirmed owls Thomas Edison, James Joyce, Winston Churchill, Marcel Proust, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Bukowski and Glenn Gould all found a way to get their message out. “There is a romance about all those who are abroad in the black hours.” (Robert Louis Stevenson)A message from The Painter’s Keys Team
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Robert, Sara, Peter, Sarah, Shawn, Sam, Marilyn, and Dorothy
Sunrise over the Bugaboos
oil painting, 30 x 40 inches
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