The sunrise comes as no surprise. “As day follows night” the saying goes and proves its truism each morning. From the eastern horizon the sun threatens, rays lighting it and spreading west. The light in these brief moments of dawn is transfigured crossing the prairie to cast a coral glow on the rise of Rockies. Such a contrast, landlocked mountains painted the color of sea life, bringing together ocean and mountain, ephemeral moments, blink and it is gone. Gaze upon it and drink it into your soul before the sun at the start of its brazen passage whitewashes all with its naked stare, claim this daily miracle for your own while it last.
Mile markers and mountains race by as I head south on the interstate. I long for there to be silhouetted Saguaro about me, frozen arms outstretched in acceptance or submission, but not here, there are only walking stick cacti to see in Colorado. Sad stand-ins for the quintessential quilled plants that inhabit our image-ridden imaginations. Still walking sticks are something, as cacti are succulents of myth and lore in my native South.
As I look over the hood of my car, the blacktop goes by and beneath me. Years on this circuit have imprinted upon me, and I can gaze about freely in the knowledge that my car knows where it is going. Amid the stark, arid beauty of these barren plains that abut the Rockies, people I pass and that pass me seem oblivious with eyes on nowhere and cell phones nestled against their cheeks. How can they not see, how can they not think of God instead of the microcosms of their lives?
At seven thirty in the morning (or the A.M. as might be said in the masterpiece of a movie, Raising Arizona), they are talking on their cell phones. Who is on the other end? Are they talking to other commuters, reaching out for kindred spirits with whom to hide from the braking dawn and its majesty, or someone at home who tugs at their hearts in a life that seems more commute than anything else? I don’t know, but I wonder. I have no one to talk to that early, and wish no one to talk with. They need their sleep or start to their day, and I need to commune with the visions about me to assure myself that I am part of the coming day. I see exits familiar in number and name, and locations marking my progress, a self-congratulatory pat on the back that one meager morning milestone after another is passed, each milestone taking me further along from bed to work.
My mind is a transition as well. I process dreams, think of home, and then accept work and its list of things that cry for my attention. These last thoughts nurse me along the final miles to the office so that the beginning of my work day builds upon the foundation of my thoughts.
Returning home reverses the imagery of going to work. I take the drive to unwind and drink in the surroundings, to numb the thoughts that are best left to my desk and tomorrow. The mountains take on a different quality as I work my way north. The sun having dipped behind them is still lighting the world, and leaves the mountains in relief to such an extent that they appear cut out of cardboard. Layers of mountain shapes shown in two dimensions to the thirsting eye.
I leave the work behind and settle into the home ahead. I plan what to fix for dinner, I scan the mountains and the prairies. I see different faces in adjacent cars doing the same thing as their morning counterparts – talking into phones, ignoring the world, absorbed and self-absorbed.
Home is the boon I unconsciously await all day. It is the gift afforded to me by trial of a fifty mile each way commute. I relinquish home in the morning, knowing I will reclaim it at night. Returning to my wife and our dog, to cook dinner, to relax together and taste each others waters of the day.
It is at the end of this routine that bed waits, that sleep dreams for my return as the price of a new dawn. I know not where the dreams will take me, though I try to be the boatman of it across my private river Styx. I have some say at times how I enter, where I tread, but never the whole of the whole. The true boatman is my subconscious and goes by the name angst. My dreams are the very definition of worlds colliding. They are linear feed and juxtaposition of past and present and mist enshrouded future. I embrace them as such; I groom through them for insight, and take them at face value.
When morning comes, I walk free of the dreams and must rise from the bed trailing a longing glance back to my sleeping wife. I partake in my morning ablutions and return to my car and my commute, the cycle repeating as cycles must. My day is under way and the sunrise comes as no surprise.