5am. Not often I have a completely sleepless night but this has been one of them. Look on the bright side, it gives one the opportunity to see a new day dawning, surely one of the great blessings we often take for granted. I am so lucky not to have to get up every day before my eyes are open, just to miss the rush hour and arrive at my office desk on time but all the same, seeing the light spreading across the sky when all around me is quiet, is quite quite magical.
I have cherished memories of dawn viewings over the years. Often from beautiful settings around the world but many more mundane. I used to have a fab neighbour called Irene, one of those decent, straight-talking Irish women who are therapist, strategist and friend. When Jake was young and times were troubled, she would spot me on my way home.
“Fancy a glass of wine this evening? Pop down to me once you’ve got him settled.”
Later I would wander down to her house, glad to share a glass with her. Not that we literally shared a glass, you understand. We would have a drink and then a top-up and then it seemed pointless not to finish the bottle.
“Best get back home” I’d say.
“Bit early yet, don’t you think? C’mon, just another small one. We need it…”
The second bottle of white would loosen our tongues and honestly, it would take all night to say what we had to say. Irene wouldn’t be happy anyway letting me walk (30 yards) home in the dark so once we saw the light streaking the sky, we would finally knock back our last one and home I’d go, thoroughly counselled and recuperated.
As a student at Exeter Uni, one of my great friends, Gail, and I would jump into her car in the middle of the night to go off and see the dawn arriving at Topsham or Dawlish. We’d walk miles in the cold morning air, talking, laughing and planning our takeover of the world.
After two years of my French degree it was time to go spend a year in France. Gail would be continuing her Geography degree and we’d never again be students together. The day I was due to leave, to catch the night ferry from Dover, we arranged to meet for a dawn breakfast in the centre of London. Trafalgar Square, don’t ask me why. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
Nothing as civilised as breakfast in one of the many fine hotels. Instead we brought our folding chairs and camp table, our cutlery and napkins, and sat beside the fountains, amongst the pigeons, with our cornflakes, cold sausages and flasks of coffee. It was mad but that’s youth for you. We watched the dawn break, saw the city come to life and wondered at the office workers hurrying to their desks. Would we ever be one of those responsible serious adults? We strongly doubted it.
And now I raise my head from my writing and see the day has arrived. Life seems tough for lots of us, we let our worries weigh us down. There’s no Gail or Irene to travel my sleepless night with me but I hope they too are waking somewhere and seeing a new day begin. For really, we are blessed to know we have another chance and another day we can one day treasure if we choose to see it that way.
In the words of Mary Jean Irion:
Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.