IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT (REVISITED)

My car was outwardly at rest but inwardly restless, much like its owner. I sat zoned out but contemplative and stared back at my friend, trying to find answers in her face.

I was in the midst of my third meltdown of the month. Just a year out from graduation, I quickly learned that life is hardest on the planners, the dreamers, and the idealists. What we dream and what we do are often ill matched. What our hearts need and what our minds are paid to create are too often worlds apart.

“I just don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore. Who I want to be, what I want to do, how this immense confusion even happened…”

Frustrated by my lack of answers and sensing the exhaustion radiating from my passenger’s seat, I called it a night to put an end to the early morning existentialism. Or so I thought.

On my drive home I hugged each turn and abbreviated each stop sign; reckless enough to feel a rush, responsible enough to feel secure. When I finally calmed my engine after pulling into my parking space, the beauty of the midnight sky overshadowed my desire for a comfortable blanket and a warm bed.

Seven stately oaks line the cul-de-sac I live on and each of them takes quite the beating when autumn starts to show its face. One by one, the leaves drain themselves of their chlorophyll – changing from red to yellow to brown as the season progresses – and start their descent toward the ground. The oaks are bare by the time winter rolls around. Absolutely naked they stand and sway – bending to their limits – seemingly dead. But in their core, life is making its mark. Even in the dead of winter – the climax of their creative depression – they are growing again.

In a way, the oaks feel the manic cycles of birth much like humans do. In this Creation, everything has its season.

My cold body shuddered. I shoved my hands into pockets already weighed down with material possessions.

“Everything was created for One by One,” I muttered. “I will learn something out here. I have to.”

I cleared my lenses, opened my ears, expanded my lungs, and planted my feet.

“I am ready. I am listening.”

I looked up to the belly of a tree. My tree. The oak I grew up with, the oak I spent many summers and seasons with. The oak that lent branches to be the arms on my snowmen, the wands to my Hermione, and the mechanisms by which I transplanted squishy garden bugs to new locations. The oak I never much appreciated, until then.

Have you ever noticed that bare tree limbs look a lot like the bronchioles in the human lung? The way they branch from the trunk, to the limbs, to the branches, and finally to the twigs. Tree branches are the bronchioles of the universe. They sway to and fro, releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.

In a way, trees breathe the way humans do. In this Creation, everything is connected.

Back to the sky lit up by a three-quarter full moon. Clouds varied in intensity on the gray scale; coming and going, they changed the ambiance like a dimmer switch. As bright as the moon is, it can disappear entirely if the right shade and density of cloud comes along.

In a way, the moon’s luminosity is dependent on external circumstances, much like a human’s is. In this Creation, everything goes through cycles.

The sky cleared to a deep and silky navy. The stars winked flirtatiously. The moon glowed, backlit by the sun. A gust of wind, pure and crisp, rendered me breathless.

One with the expansive, infinite joy that is Creation, I whispered into the night, “Thank you.”