Gift of the Morning

Since the pandemic made working from home my reality, and the kids went back to school (after the dark days of online homeschooling), I’ve taken the kids to school almost every morning. We’ve had a change of routine this term, which means that every Tuesday and Thursday morning, my wife takes them. And, after the necessary cleaning and washing of breakfast stuff, I have a bit of alone time before work. Being Winter, this coincides with sunrise, which has always been a magical period for me – whenever I could, and actually took the time, to witness it.

These periods have inspired a few poems over my writing life, but one that comes to mind this morning is “Sunrise in Paradise” – which I wrote some 12 years ago, in a period in which I drove in to my job in the city centre every morning. A recurring theme at this time of year was my being disheartened because as I sat in crawling morning traffic on the highway, to my right, I could see the sun rising. This beautiful, daily occurrence which I would have loved to witness as I did in earlier days. I wished I could just pull over, sit on the side of the road, and spend a while watching the birth of a new day.

Of course, that was impractical, as many things are once one becomes a responsibility-laden adult. But it still didn’t stop me from building up the emotions I felt around losing the opportunity to witness that daily miracle. And these eventually poured out at a later time, when I got the opportunity to watch that sunrise once more.

At that time, I was fairly disillusioned by the whole rat race of the working world, being in a job that felt dead-end and factory-like. So I never imagined that one day – still in my working life – I’d get to witness sunrise again as a regular occurrence.

But here we are.

We live in a complex, and there’s a staircase right outside our door from which I can get an elevated view of the sunrise. Of course, having watched it many times in my years living here, I’ve noticed how at different times of year, the sun comes up from a slightly different point on the horizon. We have a mountain range ahead of us, which masks its earliest rising. So whenever I see sunrise, it’s always when that orange ball of fire peeks out from a mountain far, far away. It’s amazing how quickly the sun ascends. It’s amazing how the colour of the sky changes – from more vivid colours (orange, this particular time) to paler, muted scenes. And, at one point, the entire world seems to take on a different light and air. Like a switch has been flicked, and sunrise time has given way to the busy day.

It’s a beautiful sight to witness. Even more beautiful when I can just stand there, eyes closed, and try to fully take in the atmosphere. I feel the fresh morning air. I listen to the symphony of the birds’ morning songs. I hear the sounds of cars, as people scurry off to work and school – grateful that I get these regular breaks from those drives.

I watch, too. Mostly, I watch. I usually see more than one flock of birds in their morning murmuration – a practice which I’ve always loved watching. I’ve always been intrigued and amazed by the built-in level of co-ordination these creatures have, to be able to fly as one unit, so fast, and so far. I’m envious of the freedom of open skies they have. Just the other day, I followed them as long as I could, until they were so far that my eyes could no longer make them out.

Sometimes – mostly on weekends – there are runners on the streets. I used to be one of them, but now my running times have shifted to the afternoons. Still, though, it’s a staple that is comforting to witness: there are always those who are out there on the roads, taking advantage of the fresh air and early hours to take care of their bodies (while many others cling tight to the comfort of their beds).

We live near a school, so I see mothers walking their sleepy-headed kids to their childhood occupations, remembering my own pre-school years, when my auntie would walk my cousin and I to school.

We also live right next to a train track, so I sometimes see the carriages passing by – people inside on their way to work and school. I love watching people on such journeys. Not in a creepy way, but just to witness the variety of human emotions and practices. Back when I took the train to work, those journeys inspired another poem – “Train of Thought”.

Sometimes, before sunrise (and a little after), I still see the sliver of the moon, as well as a nearby star – which I’m guessing is actually Venus. I’m amazed how it’s relatively near the position of sunrise, because the first time I actually considered the positions of the sun and moon in the early morning, they were directly opposite each other. So I figured they always would be. But I’ve since learnt otherwise – by observation. Observation of this natural world, which I don’t observe enough.

Nowadays, for many of us, we would learn such things by doing an Internet search. Knowledge is so close at hand that we answer our natural curiosity with instant answers from a screen. We don’t take the time to try to think WHY something is a particular way, because the answers are so readily available.

In the pre-technology era, as kids, we had a lot more patience. We had far more capacity to sit with problems for a while. Observe. Try things. Figure them out.

We still do have that capacity, but it’s been crowded out by the immense growth of a culture of instant gratification which technology has normalised.

Anyway…

Wherever you are, and whatever your morning routine looks like, I hope you, too, can find some moments of stillness to feed your soul. Because it’s a most blessed time of day.

5 thoughts on “Gift of the Morning

  1. Sunrise is my favourite time of day. I loved all your descriptions of life around you in this post. I enjoy watching people too and at sunrise we are mostly kinder, we greet one another with freshness and before the weight of the day is set upon our shoulders. I don’t see many people around here as I mainly walk the bush tracks out of town but when we visit the beach I cross paths with so many and I truly enjoy our brief but usually happy salutations. At the beach there are always the happy dogs too, which are my favourite Morning animal. So delighted with everything in general is the dog out and about on an adventure. When I return to the house it is always with a big smile on my face. All that comes after this brief and magical time will come – but so will the next sunrise. And there is much comfort in that thought.

  2. Yacoob, my distant friend, you feel so close as I read your words awaiting the sunrise, which comes later as we move towards autumn. I love this time, too, all promise and gentle beauty. I’m so happy you have these precious mornings to enter the deep peace of sunrise once again. It’s a gift to read how it feeds your spirit and writing. Thank you so much for this. XO

  3. Nice post, Yacoob. There is definitely value in taking the time to soak in the natural world. It’s great that you get to see much of it right from your window. Thanks for sharing.

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