I have a thing for early mornings. There is a sweetness to that post 4:59am pre 6:59am time for me. Perhaps it’s the newness of the day, or the quiet that the rest of the day just cannot seem to replicate, or the darkness that must come to a close for the dawn to come. I get up early out of desire. I make tea, I read my bible, I journal, I put in some time on any number of creative projects I am managing. I send text messages so folks whom my heart has a sweet spot for will wake to them and smile. I write notes, or love letters as I like to call them, and set them aside to put in the mailbox across the street. I also go for walks.
I slide into my tights, pull on my t shirt and hoodie, lace up my neon pink or orange sneakers, zip up my jacket, pocket my phone and neon pink headphones, grab my key, and head out the front door into the dark, the quiet, the still. I don’t always know what route I will take. Depending on what I think my body can manage, I loop around Clark Park, or the University of Penn campus before the bridge, or the University of Penn campus over the bridge. I launch into the dark, into a circumstance that looks like it did when I slid into my pajamas and under covers only hours ago, not exactly sure of what way I will go, but confident I will get what I need and that the light will come.
I launch into the dark, I launch into the uncertain, fully confident that I will get what I need and that the light of day will come. I never start a walk questioning if the sun will rise. I never worry that my body won’t get some exercise and that the endorphins won’t be released giving me all the good feels. I don’t fret that the early morning looks the same as the late night. I simply start and expect.
And so as I stepped onto the slightly uneven sidewalks this morning, wind causing me to contemplate if I should go back up four flights of stairs for my jacket , not as tired as I anticipated after spending the weekend packing up my life in Buffalo, NY, I was acutely aware almost simultaneously of three things. One, I still had no idea what was next for me career wise, if Philadelphia and I are on the mends (it’s been complicated for the past 3 and a half years) and that is scary. Two, I step into the dark and unknown most mornings when I go for my walks and with expectation and confidence. Three, if I physically can step into and walk through the dark and unknown and still expect light and goodness, I am capable of doing the same with anything else that is unknown, dark, or looks vaguely like a past circumstance I have no desire to repeat.
Maybe I’ve made a skeptic out of you comparing early morning strolls through west Philadelphia to the squelchability (I made that word up, roll with it) of all of our strange typically unpleasant feelings toward the unknown of the future, especially the future of things we’ve been taught to worship like careers, where we’ll live, settling down with partners, babies (the making, having, and rearing) financial security establishing, etc. But maybe we’ve gotten really good at complicating the way we meet the future when it rises to greet us, just like a new day, dark, unknown, mysterious, slowly peeling back it’s layers with the light. Maybe we’ve spooked ourselves into thinking that because it is not fully unveiled before us when we want it to be that it won’t ever happen, or will be too late, or we did something to kept it from happening. The day comes whether we are ready or not and lays before us hours, minutes, and seconds of opportunities for us to shape it throughout.
The dark, the unknown, the resemblance to a past we’d prefer not to repeat don’t have to unnerve us. It doesn’t have to give cause to pause, doubt, fear, or get cozy with analysis paralysis. We can step into it with certainty that we will get what we need and the light will come. We can go boldly, courageously, hopefully, messy, broken, slowly, step by step. We can go with ideas, thoughts, wonderings and ponderings, with secrets, with memories. We can go into the dark of loss, of grief, of chronic illness. We can go into the unknown of the layoff, break up, failed GRE. We can go into the passed over promotion (again), the rejection letter (again), the miscarriage (again), the divorce (again). When we think we can’t, we can slide into our core identities (those parts of who we are we know and there is no convincing us otherwise), lace up our goals and dreams, put in our headphones that play the carefully curated truths of the life stories we are writing and we can go expectantly into the dark, the unknown, the resemblance of the past, knowing it is a new day bringing with it light.