Consciousness comes like the first bird to sing with the earliest light of day. A single thought plays in your mind. You try to disregard it. There are so many comfortable positions in which to sleep, and you try them all, but slumber, at least for this night, is history. That one bird sings insistently, soon to be joined by another, then another and another until there is a full chorus playing outside and inside and you know that the only choice is to get up. Maybe in a few hours, you can lie back down again and resume sleep, but for now, there is joyful work to be done and the body is eager to get at it.
Hours from now, we’re expecting over 60 people here to celebrate the high school graduation of our oldest boy with a backyard barbecue. Our youngest is at a landmark place too, entering high school in the fall. Our middle son will embark on the beginning of his college search as an 11th grader. A particular lyric from Joni Mitchell, who has put to words better than most the collective experiences of life, runs through the mind. It’s from The Circle Game. “We’re captive on a carousel of time. We can’t return we can only look behind from where we came and go round and round and round in the circle game.” It’s the line about dragging “your feet to slow the circles down” that gets us. Would that we could. We know that we can’t. Like the scene in the movie “Parenthood” in which Anne Archer and Steve Martin are caroming through a wild roller coaster ride, gripping tightly the bar before them, their faces at once a shifting blend of terror and exhilaration, we hang on and do our best to enjoy the ride.
Life is passing before us at a seemingly accelerating speed. All the more reason to smell deeply of the roses, or the lilacs or the peonies or the honeysuckle… All the more reason to stop and marvel at that one bird’s beautiful song.
Even the dogs out in the office can feel the energy in the air. They’re howling to be released from their crates. For us, there’s fruit to cut, vases to fill, skewers to thread, drinks to chill, meats to grill, and salad to toss. But for now, a moment to savor the growing chorus of birdsong welcoming the first light.