The curtain’s open: nightly rumbles
I woke up early, too early today, sometime around 2:30 in the morning. Or wee hours of the late night, depending on how you look at it. I usually nod back to sleep, but I couldn’t get dozy again, and I sat, propped up against a stack of pillows, in the dark, contemplating. My brain was stuck between the fuzzy space of dreams that felt far too real to be dreams, and the strange awkwardness of being awake, sensations of cold and dark pinging against my face, the hazy tickle of a cold still strangling my throat. In my mind, there was writing to do, and walking to do, and thinking to do, and pieces that weren’t yet sorted, and something stumbled me out of sleep and into a doozy, woozy sort of wakening. I wasn’t sure if sleep or wake would answer it, but for the life of me, I couldn’t sleep.
I’ve been sick for a few days, maybe almost a week, so my sinuses are thick and my breathing was tight. I didn’t like what was in my chest. Sleep, I wanted to sleep. I wish I could sleep. My brain is cloudy, and I don’t think I’m thinking correctly—actually I can tell that I’m not, by the strange decisions I’m making, by how it feels to climb stairs, by the way the floorboards seem springier under my footsteps, as though they are conspiring to make me fall. And yet my body, this body, it tingled with wakefulness. But it was freezing, and I couldn’t warm up, and the blankets called. I balked.
I suppose by all accounts, being sick, tired, in the dark, and short on sleep should propel you away from entering the world outside. The doors, they open out, into the world, and our houses just cluster us in small pockets of space. If you think about the world in reverse—the open is shared, and the homes are private enclaves, and instead of going home inwards, we go home, together, outwards— and then, the space between the buildings—do you see it? All that space? All those corners and rectangles and edges and boundaries? The space between the walls, we walk into a world of ours, of sharing, and it’s time we changed this strange cultural perspective of MINE and ME and don’t-cross-here lines and arbitrary daguerreotypes, to a culture of sharing, collaboration, and interesting intersections between people and processes and things. I’m not suggesting the devils of communism, or stripping away the modalities of capitalism; but I am suggesting that the infrastructure at play and the components in front of us can be re-turned around in a few more wealth cycle iterations through the rise of micro-entrepreneurship.
If you think that the sharing economy is the devil, look back at the histories of advertising from the past century, and the Ford Motor ads that boasted that each person could have a 7-person vehicle for just themselves. We worked ourselves into a tizzy of ownership and possession, stemming from what, well, I’m not certain—but a slackening of this strange demarcation and perhaps an introduction of more nuanced gradients of public-private social, shared, and infrastructural space could help us figure our way into a blend of what’s the best of (and for) humanity.
Do I know what I’m talking about? No. Do I have ideas? Yes. Am I proposing a massive disruption? No. The complexities of ecosystems tells me enough about how nuanced the interactions are between symbiotic organisms, and to propose a reconstruction could be more deleterious than suggesting subtle changes. Instead, rather, the question is framed as “what’s not working about what we have now?” and then, “how can we tweak to get there?”
This is the rumble, the sensibility that comes to mind when I wake up in the slumber. My stomach hurts a bit, I haven’t taken a shit in far too long, and I’m inexplicably thirsty even though I’ve had four or more bottles of water while sleeping. My legs want to run, my head is pounding, and I’m desperate to be back at the computer, just to write. And it’s pitch black, the moon shifting again in the midnight-morning hours, the fog rolling in overhead, the city sky lightening slightly as the hours wane into morning. The low cannon of the fog horn sounds on repeat, and I get up, 3:30, awake, disorganized, puzzled, ready for a wander. My feet are burning with the cold icy temperature of my body’s inability to circulate blood. I breathe. Breathing is free. I make a cup of lemon tea, but I don’t have tea so I put a whole lemon into a lot of hot water and I drink it in. This is okay. I need to run. It’s dark. I don’t think about running like exercise, but I need to wiggle my legs. And my brain, still cloudy with the fog of a cold or some other sickness, doesn’t comprehend the components that might be helpful, but rather, I stumble down the dark stairs and I head outside and I start walking, walking, walking, and then my legs are pattering along the sidewalks and somewhere around the pinnacle of Russian Hill I realize that I’m not wearing a bra, that my underwear is the uncomfortable kind, and I’ve forgotten everything about prototypical running of the modern era, and my cotton sweatshirt is getting sticky. A long while ago I agreed with the status quo decision to forgo cotton in lieu of the technical material that some master companies told me were better to run in, and as the weight of the cotton lies on my shoulders, I see why some smart people in some building made that decision, and why I agreed. But I don’t care. My tiny tits jiggle a little free-er than they usually do, and my legs wobble and I have trouble breathing up the long stairs, but the air is better for me, and even though,—even though—
—even though I’m sick, even though I’m tired, even though it’s midnight, even though it’s the wrong time, even though I’m alone, even though I didn’t sleep, even though I’m not wearing the right underwear, even though my sweatshirt sticks, even though I don’t know how I’ll get through the day, even though I’m scared, even though the homeless man looks more afraid of me than I of him, even though I left my glasses on and the world is darting at me, magnified, even though I don’t have headphones, even though I don’t know what I’m doing, even though—
Even though everything tells me I shouldn’t or can’t or wouldn’t it be better if, and, or, or, — even though, I still will, because if I were naked and freezing and scared and tired, I’ll still do it anyways, and this is the commitment I make to myself, my heart, my mind, my body when I roll out of the bed in the strange hours of the day; that I will do it anyways, regardless, because, because we must, and if we wait for perfect—then all we’re doing is waiting. And the genius lies in the man who does it anyways, who excels anyways, who fights for something in the face of opposition, who makes it possible when everyone is shouting that it’s impossible.
And it’s a little bit, a short run, a wander through the hills, staring into the clouds and foggy shadows rolling across the flat early morning waters of the bay, that help my mind settle and sink, and the thoughts start to fold together a little more, and I know that walking, moving, dancing across the heavy weight of the cement, folding myself into the nooks of trees, tickling the grass with my palms, talking to the earth by laying my heart heavy chest down upon it, draping my being across the bumps and folds of the city structures that we laid here, together, in our collective strange humanity—this is what it means to be a person, and to leave a small print. Watching, I see the world created in a strange stop-motion video, except in eons, and I see the carvings of the cityscape build and tumble, erect and statuesque, growing just like any other organism, the coral reef of the airscape, building shell fragments upon shell fragments, responding to the invisible flows of money, time, process, value, desire, economy, law. And in it, we occupy the ancient shells of our coral ancestors, we live in it, and the cement moves, and the land sighs, and we dance across it, gently, roughly, uniquely. And me, I get to wiggle-walk and skip-doodle down the lumbering hills, talking to the city with my feet, bouncing in chimes with the way the world is for one brief moment, enmeshing my brain in the art of being, in the beautiful art of walking.
As Geoff Nicholson says in his book, The Lost Art Of Walking, “writing is one way of making the world our own, and walking is another; words inscribe a text in the same way that a walk inscribes space.” We are beings, born engineers, born architects, with an urgency and need to create, to build, to inscribe ourselves in space and on the world—and we can do this, simply, by talking, by touching, by walking, by writing, by seeing. The people who reach out to me and say, I want to write, but I don’t know how—they want to tell their story, see their words, be a creator. I say, do it. Do it now, do it often, do it every day, because yes, you are a creator. You are a builder. You are a maker. The desperation with which our generation wants to add “Author,” to our self biographies speaks to this collective need for creation; too often we crave the done-ness of authorship as opposed to the evolution and perpetuation of writing. I am a writer; I write. I am never done. Today, I don’t know where I started, I don’t know what the writing means, I just know that coming back, walking home, tits in a tumble, laughing and coughing, that I’ll try to create something today. And hopefully get a bit more sleep.