Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The goods

     Sometimes I wake up feeling quite right. The morning seems to occur as a natural and welcomed part of my day, and I greet it with open eyes and enthusiasm. The alarm (and by alarm I mean the first alarm of five set to repeat over and over again) wakes me on the first try, my lids flutter open as if spring loaded, and I am instantly and fully awake. There is no thought of snooze, no thought of delaying my day any longer. It is these mornings, sadly  seemingly far and few between, that my legs ever restless as they eagerly swing over the side of the mattress and literally hit the ground running. The shower, in turn, only seems like part of the morning's procedure, no longer carrying the burden of waking the soul. It is mornings like these that my smile is immediately and glowingly plastered upon my face. Morning coffee can be sipped and enjoyed rather than chugged. The only effort is to avoid skipping like a school child as I make my way to the El. (or at least to stop skipping by the time I turn off of my street). These are the good ones. 

      Then there are the bad ones. These are the ones I am most accustomed to, the ones requiring not only 5 separate alarms, but that those alarms repeat indefinitely. Each alarm, sadly, is as expected as it is despised. It is these mornings that my eyelids thicken and enlarge as though they have absorbed what they could in order to stay closed. The day is shooed away in a haste, fueled by both the lack of energy and the anger of being woken, regardless of hour. These mornings have inspired the 9 minute morning power naps. Each person may experience these differently, but mine are lovely. Somewhere along the way these mornings have happened so often, or rather so noticeably, that I have convinced myself that it's better to wake ten times 9 minutes apart rather than sleep the extra hour and a half. It is almost as though I choose to torture myself on these mornings by actually creating eleven separate wakings.

     Getting out of bed is half the battle. The shower is leaned upon to provide not only a thorough cleansing (or at least enough to not be the stinky guy) but also the final and complete wake up call. Most of the time in the shower, on these types of mornings, is spent head hung defeatedly, dreading the full and final opening of the eyes. Sadly, It is the realization right before they open fully - that the eyes won't be able to rest for another eighteen hours - which provides the biggest hurdle to overcome.

     Though I am not quite sure how often these two mornings actually occur in terms of percentage, I can assert that the latter happens much more than the first, or that it seems obviously this way. Whether it is true or not, it seems so because I am cognizant of the bad mornings; they are the ones that are a struggle, and thus they become part of my conscious realization. I am acutely aware of each struggle these kinds of mornings create because they require being addressed.

     These two kinds of mornings are quite accurate depictions of how life is for me. It is when things are going bad that I am aware of them, but often the good goes unnoticed. I am quite knowing of when my knee flares up from the hyper extension it suffered in Port Franks; when a flu or cold sets a scratch in the back of my throat; when I stub my toe; when my back aches; when my hair hurts. I notice when things are not right, and it is in these times that I sometimes struggle to remember when it was that were right.

     It does not, unfortunately, only pertain to physical ailments. In fact, it is often the social boo-boos that become pressing conscious issues to deal with, while non issues - the things that are going right - go virtually unnoticed.

     At some point I became aware of this. I am more than willing to dwell on the bad, but often let the good go unnoticed. I know when I'm low on money, but at the same time let the fact that I feel great go by without much ado. When I don't feel so well (when I ache) I know it, but my happiness is ignored. When I am unhappy I KNOW IT, but my faith remains strong in secrecy. The list goes on and on. At some level I feel as though I spend too much time and energy on what's wrong, while at the same time I let what's right go on without celebration or notice. This is my story:

     One day I was set to meet my friend Anais downtown in the loop. Our plan was to go out south 
where Ana had identified we were headed for lunch. It was a chicken and waffle place that had received rave reviews, and it was our adventure for the day. Initially I was going to meet her up north at the video shop we work at, but because of my procrastination and ensuing tardiness we had decided to meet downtown; I was already there and it was on the way from the shop to the restaurant. When I emerged from the subway and reached street level I paused on the corner of the agreed upon intersection to wait.

     Ana was running late. I hadn't really noticed it until I became aware of my own awkwardness. I had spent quite a bit of time standing in just one spot on the sidewalk. How long had it really been? I thought to myself. Ten minutes? Thirty minutes? Seven minutes? 

     We had agreed to meet at that particular intersection because of it's location - the north central part of the loop - where the brown, pink, purple, green, orange, red, magenta, translucent, black, bright, coconut, mother of pearl, and neon line trains met. When we spoke and decided upon our location I had been implicit in describing where I would meet her - the south east corner. So there I stood, for how long I couldn't really be sure.

     As I looked south down State st. I noticed a young Asian woman walking towards me. I was unsure as to what she actually looked like. The only thing(s) I seemed to notice was the sharper features and attributes that she accented: she wore a mini skirt, jet straight black hair, non descript loose fitting top that hugged her properly, fishnet stockings, platform 28 inch heels, and a great caboose. Perhaps the best way to accurately describe her, or rather to describe how her look captivated me, would be to say she would qualify as the stereotypical depiction of a young, vivacious, sexy Asian woman.

     I couldn't divert my eyes from her gait; it was so easy and provocative, all I could do was ogle her walk. A few steps after she had passed me I again became aware of my own awkwardness and realized that I had been simply gawking at the
 girl as she passed. I looked up from her rump and let my eyes dart from place to place while I digested the idea that I was simply a man on the street staring at a sexy woman walking by. It was then that I noticed the dude across from me on the other side of the same sidewalk following this woman's ass as I had just finished doing. It immediately plastered a smile on my face to see another captivated the way I had been; it was a lovely realization that the two of us, two strangers, both were able to enjoy the sight of a vibrant thing walking down the street.

     My eyes next shifted to the left and over my partner in crime's shoulder, down Lake st. I noticed a blind man approaching the intersection, walking down the sidewalk. I stood still in my same spot above which the elevated trains ran west down Lake until they part ways from one another a few blocks down. As the blind man approached he seemed to stand out, and really for no reason at all. He appeared much as I would expect a blind man to - cane waiving side to side as he slowly made his way to the curb. I always was curious as to what kind of blind some blind people were; had he been blind from birth? was he newly blind? fully blind? While I couldn't really know what extent the man's blindness was I did seem to notice his apparel - for lack of a better vocabulary he was "wearing the uniform." 

     The man stopped at the intersection, faced north, and waited patiently at the curb as the light was red. I watched all this as I stood idly 15 feet away in my same spot, inexplicably captivated by the man. A few moments later and after his arrival to the corner the light turned green. People began to cross. The blind man stood still. Five seconds passed. The man stood still. Ten seconds passed. The man remained in place. Finally it dawned on me.

     "It's green," I shouted.

     He had no way of knowing the light had changed. It was at that point that I realized one of the goods in life. I was almost forcefully made aware of how awesome it is to be able to see. Fully inspired to write I took a seat in the small park just north of Lake st. on State st. (literally in the middle of the street). When the foliage is in full bloom it provides a seat in an almost separate little green oasis engulfed by a concrete jungle. It was early April and though the leaves were not out it did give me the reprieve from the city that I was in search of. I sat on one of the stone steps/risers and just thought about how great it was to have the gift of vision.

     The following was what I came up with.

     I'm happy to see. To see the shadows on the ground, to see the shadows on this very page. I am elated to see a light change - green or red. I'm glad to see the garbage on the street, even my own two feet. I'm lucky to know the rust under the El. and the colors I have no words to describe. I know how fast the clouds are moving. I wonder why the cab driver stares, but am aware that he is. I am amazed at how many beautiful women there are, and love that I'm not the only one that notices. I can understand the wind as an object [by the things it seems to move and carry], a taste as a hue [that an orange can taste like a color]. I can be spoken to without hearing a sound and correspond without moving my lips [as I text away]. I always have a camera with me; it snaps at every moment of my time. I can experience the lights slowly going out, not just feel the decrease in heat. I share a smile without knowing a name, I share joy from 200 feet away [as I took the time to smile and wave at people as they crossed the street in front of me]. My breath can tell me the temperature. I know and love all of these things and countless other because I see.

     How awesome it is to be able to see!

     Rule to live life by from now on:
There's lots of "goods", the things in my and everyone's life that are really awesome things that we take for granted. Instead of so often and eagerly paying attention to what may be off, what may not be good at the time, I will actively try to focus on the good stuff. There's so, SO much good stuff in our lives it makes me smile just to think and type this. Why not focus on the awesome?!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Alive for a moment in time

     He plod along, hoping that his decision not to purchase a ticket beforehand wasn’t a poor one. He didn’t know much about the west side of town, only that it was an area that was potentially much more dangerous than his own neighborhood. But it was also the part of the city that the arena called home. It wasn’t all that difficult to find his way. After all, he had called Chicago his home for the better part of five years. The game presented him with the opportunity to travel outside his zone, something he always loved to do; to try new things, exploring all that he could. In a way, such nights became mini adventures – escapes from his work of life and sleep.

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