Break the Day

Recovering the aimless neighbourhood stroll and the glory of the morning

How quickly we forget the truth of beauty and the good it does us. If you asked me if I like sunrises, I would answer with an emphatic, "Of course! They're the best." And yet, I spend most sunrises scrolling through distant world news, feeling tired, and drumming up the resolve to face the day. Usually, this looks like putting on some gentle music and drinking the first of several cups of coffee.

I shared the above tweet after a short morning walk that, quite unexpectedly, broke something open in me.

That morning, I woke up early to find a still sleeping baby and an opportunity. "Go for a walk," Maria insisted. I huffed a bit, as I was usually the one to push walks, but I bundled up for -25 Celcius temperatures and headed out in the hope that a brisk walk to the park and back would wake me up.

Reader, I took the coffee with me. Just in case.

The street was hushed with morning stillness, broken only by the crunch of my boots on the snow-packed sidewalk. Quite unintentionally, I'd left my phone at home. But this was lucky because, when I reached the park, there was no temptation to put anything between myself and what I found there. The lamps were still softly lit, bright beside the tall, dark trees. My first thought was of Narnia, of that always-winter land, whose inhabitants pray for a thaw though they only dare to hope for spring.

Quiet spread over the scene for a moment, and not a single car disturbed the peace of this small urban park. The sky, however, was ready to burst. Like an orchestra tuning up, pale morning crept up behind the red-brick blocks of houses and spread out between the bare winter branches.

I don't consider myself sentimental – susceptible is probably a better word. I don't melt at tenderness or fawn at beauty so much as I am cut by them. At that moment, the sunrise was a gift. The exceptional quiet was undeserved. To think that the moment was for me seems like the height of hubris. Still, it was offered, and I received it gratefully.

The gradient sky smoothed into morning proper as I completed my circuit, wishing to extend the moment but unable. So, when the lamps stopped seeming otherwordly, I turned and trudged toward home.

There, the second cup of coffee awaited me, and when I sat down with a watchful eye on my little Lucy – exploring the kitchen with unrelenting interest – I realized something. Tomorrow the sun would rise. Again. Unrelenting.

All I had to do was show up.

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