Before The Light

Written by: don munro

There are too many times when my eyes open and it’s still dark.

It’s useless to think that I’ll go back to sleep, and it’s no good at all to lay in bed and watch the passing parade of worries that comes marching down the Main Street of my mind. When I do that, the entertainment seems to take on its own life. The parade grows longer, more spectacular, with the noise of marching bands, my thoughts, growing louder. Clowns scurry ahead of the band leader, throwing red balls in the air. There are too many balls to count.

The best thing I can do for myself is to rise from my bed. But there are days when it seems too much to bear being home before the rest of the world rises. There’s just too much emptiness in my small house. 

I leave, escaping to DD's, where I sit and sip my coffee over a newspaper. Sometimes there are others sitting waiting for the light to come, too–like the woman who gives an animated “Hello” to everyone she meets, staring too long into our eyes. She takes out her cell phone to call a friend about the rashes on her legs. Something is biting her during the night. Raj and the other DD workers snicker, and I am drawn to–but at the same time repelled by–her morbid troubles.

Sometimes, in the winter, it seems as if the time I spend in the dark before the light comes is endless. I don’t think it’s normal for darkness to last so long; it’s probably one of the punishments for eating the apple in Eden.

I much prefer the early light of June and July, when the morning allows the gentle unfolding of life around me. Somehow, when the sun is in the sky at 6:30 a.m., a passing gasoline truck rattling my windows does not sound so lonely. Nor do I mind the sun revealing the stains from spring rains on my windows … or the birds loudly announcing their presence in the trees. Their manic chirping awakens schoolchildren eagerly counting down the days til summer.

When the darkness is especially long, and I have already sought out the comfort of others who cannot sleep, I will sometimes return home and do what I am so reluctant to do — sit still. I take up my position in a special chair near a window that looks out onto the street. I close my eyes and listen to the heated rhythms that only my body can make. My breath … my ins and outs.

But I wonder; why is it so hard to be still? Especially in the dark before the light.