I never imagined that this day would come; as I sit in front of the keyboard, wondering what my 100th post will address. A little less than a year ago, I discovered the magic of blogging. I was thrilled to find an outlet for the creativity that had been building up within me for years. My soul was liberated when I was able to share my insights on everyday events and situations, extracting the deeper meaning to be found within them. The energy behind my efforts was reinforced as thousands of readers around the world commented positively on the influence I had exerted in their lives.
I took time to read and reflect on some of my past blog posts. It was then that the answer was revealed to me. My first post came about as the result of a long morning walk with my faithful hound dog Xena. The journey we call life often takes us onto circular paths; ending one leg of the journey precisely where it began earlier. Such was the case with my writing. It took no time to realize that my 100th post would somehow involve those jaunts that I shared with my canine muse.
The military has an endearing term for that time of the morning when even the sun is still in bed. It is called “O’Dark Thirty!” Typically you are rousted out of bed, given ten minutes to get dressed, marched to the mess hall, and then subjected to endless calisthenic exercises. All of this is performed in pitch black darkness! Xena and I have shared our own special version of O’Dark Thirty virtually every morning of this past year.
On weekdays, my canine companion and I head out the front door promptly at 5:30 in the morning. As I try to shake the sleep-induced cobwebs out of my head; Xena darts down the sidewalk, ready to explore a bounty of new scents. The two of us plod down the road, spookily illuminated by the occasional streetlamp. It is quiet this time of morning and it seems like the entire world must still be asleep. We will confront the solitary police cruiser or milk delivery van every now and then, being careful not to cross paths with what might be a tired driver.
At times we enjoy the rare treat of coming across another dog and owner pair; they too sleepwalking through the impending dawn. It never fails that my fellow owner and I exchange a series of polite greetings, stifling sleep deprived yawns. In secret, both of us are wishing we had selected hamsters as pets rather than dogs. The two pets, in contrast, take time to circle one another, exchange sniffs, and sometimes even chase each other in circles. Inevitably, the party breaks up and each pair heads back off into the cold darkness.
As we walk anonymously through the neighborhood, lights begin to come on in random houses. I smile as I picture snooze buttons being slapped on alarm clocks and the smell of fresh coffee brewing. While my fellow human beings are just coming to life; my furry personal trainer and I have already covered at least one mile on the streets!
There are times when I find myself consumed by envy, wishing that it was me still buried under a pile of warm bed covers. That is about the time that Xena will circle back around, nip at my hands playfully, perhaps let out a quiet howl, and urge me to continue on our journey of exploration. I always yield to her request and we return to our mutual trot.
By this time, activity is beginning to pick up. People are going out to warm up their cars and an increasing number of lights are coming on. As Xena sniffs out a new treasure under a pile of leaves, my mind drifts and I find myself staring through a lit window at the house next to us. I am not a “Peeping Tom” by any means, but I am always intrigued by what might be going on inside the otherwise nondescript house.
Is somebody preparing to have the best day of their life? Has an older couple, some fifty years later, once again reaffirmed their love for one another through a good morning kiss? Will one of the occupants share of their inner beauty with a complete stranger? How will these suburban dwellers each touch another soul in some special and unexpected way? Will this be a day to be remembered for the rest of their time on Earth?
A sharp tug on my hand reminds me that Xena is ready to move on. The dimly lit window I was peering through begins to disappear behind me. Still, the questions continue to run through my head. The difference now is that I am not addressing them towards the people living on the other side of the window. Instead, I am now posing those questions to myself.
There is a calm that precedes the dawn. The stars overhead seem to twinkle just a little brighter and the cold air clears the mind. It is a time of solitude, yet ironically it is also my time to connect with humanity. It is ritually my time to reconnect with myself, my aspirations, and my hopes for the world. Indeed, it is often in the deepest darkness that we find the brightest light. I only wish that all of you could share the paradise that I call “O’Dark Thirty!”