May 16, 2019    At its best, arising with the dawn is a bit of effortless magic. The word itself can suggest a blend of mythical and physical. (Both inspiration and spirits arise.) Arising, in its simplest physical form, is gravity offset through an application of force. At its complicated worst, arising is the biggest challenge of each new day. The insistent hand of gravity curls around the cams, levers, and springs that work in concert to exit the mattress and place feet on the floor.  The defective nervous system can’t organize quickly. The muscles await commands in the same way a fidgety delivery boy awaits an elevator. I flail about on the bed trying to summon the command code to arise. Arising is the transition from rest to the promise of a new day. Solve the puzzle and the promise is delivered.

Have you ever watched an infant learn to walk? It starts with arising. Clutching a chair or stool, there is a wondrous look shaded by curiosity, confusion, and possibility. But the kid is up. He lurches forward at an impossible speed, feet seemingly unsynchronized to body. Cheers, laughs, and high-fives.  And then a tumble with a look of “what just happened”? It is easy to see the competing forces: out of sync muscles, gravity and human willpower. It is like watching my life in reverse.

Going places requires choreography of the lurching dance called walking. Effort, strategy, and observation feed the calculation of shortest possible distance offset by hazards and obstacles. The calculations are continual. The lure of destination is weighed against potential harm. Falling hurts. Giving up hurts more. The dance continues. I wouldn’t call it a waltz.

Aging in dog years, I lose about seven years of physical capability each year. By my calculations I am seventy-five. A dropped object is a crisis. Getting both feet into a car is a convoluted jig. A bit of exercise depletes my muscular reserves. My chair, with its pillows and lumbar support is a sanctuary. Next year I will be eighty-two.

A small bridge crosses a brook that separates our backyard from the forest that stretches north beyond measurement. The forest is laced with ancient walls and rocky trails. The brook is small but flows freely throughout the year. At the crossing, it is a foot deep and two feet wide. I crossed the bridge for the last time. The problem is arising. If I slip from bridge I would likely drown in a foot of water.

Life still thrills me but in different ways. Allison is always there and her there is what I need. Occasionally, I write a great sentence. Cardinals are nesting in the trellis outside the window. It is spring with its lovely combination of peepers and rain. There are many pathways without roots and rocks. The reward is movement not distance. I awake before the dawn, and let the morning sounds build. Owls, songbirds, frogs, and cars reach a threshold that say “arise”. There are no regrets. Each day holds promise. And with promise there is purpose.


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