Why is it that nighttime is the time when things seem so much larger than they are? When the sun goes down and the house stills and becomes quiet for the first time in 12 or more hours the thoughts and wanderings of the mind tend to take on a new volume and immediacy. There is nothing for the memories or analyses or rehashing to compete with. There is no longer the noise of the day's distractions to divert attention from the incessant tapes playing in the mind.
Nighttime is when I mentally play out exactly what I should have said or how I should have reacted in any given situation from my past, whether it be a few hours ago or ten years ago. I am incredibly clever and witty and very on target late at night. I am able to sting like lemon juice in a paper cut or succinctly state a perfect truth so blatantly clear and pure that no one could argue. I am, at night, my perfect dramatic self.
Lately, I have spent a great number of nighttime hours meditating on all of the people to whom I owe apologies. Mostly, these focused thoughts have been surrounding old friends who have fallen by the wayside. I have written and rewritten dozens of letters to say I am sorry and to take ownership of my hurtful actions or words, however incredibly past due the apology is. With each page, a release begins and slowly I can feel the weight of years regretting being lifted from my shoulders. I have been incredibly fortunate as I have reached each person and been able to apologize. It has been renewing on a number of levels.
This nighttime catharsis has led me to realize something about the way I move through the world: I'm am too teathered. As I have been obsessively replaying my life events in the restless hours, I have been focusing on the past, what has been, what is already done. I have bookmarked my life in so many places that I am quickly becoming unable to move forward. Here's a bookmark so I'll remember to apologize for this later. Another marker here because that was such a fun night. Ooh, I need to mark this chapter because I am not ready to shut it for good. Not yet.
I wrote my best friend from high school an apology not long ago. I had been carrying around the regret of a poor choice I had made our last month of school together. Dragging is more appropriate a term as the regret weighed heavily on me and grew heavier with each passing year that I continued to berrate and condemn myself. 17 years I roped myself to it. Her response to the apology was, "Please don't give it another thought. I don't even remember what our falling out was about." What?! She didn't even remember what ended our friendship? I can tell you every single little nuanced word, look and sigh that happened. Not one detail was lost along my 17 year journey with this regret. And, come to find out, I was the only one carrying any of it around. She had moved on. She was light. She was unteathered to this past moment. I was the only one mired. Holy s...have I been choosing to drag it around? And that is when the light of "aha" brightened everything. Our teathering, our heaviness is of our own choosing.
I did not carry this regret from high school around consciously, I just simply did not know how to cut the cord and move on. And, most of the time, I didn't even know it was there other than having the sense of dragging a boulder behind me. Bookmarking the chapters in one's life is like casting out ropes from a boat: if you throw enough ropes overboard, you'll get tangled and moored. Even though the breeze pushes the waves past the bow, the movement forward is only an illusion. I have thrown far too many ropes into my past. I am tired of being tied to things that are behind me. I want to see new horizons and experience new chapters. I will never reach the end of the story if I keep reading the first few lines over and over and over again.
Nighttime makes all of the memories seem so much more hightened in emotion and detail. The darkness obscures the truth or at least the reality of the thing. There are too many places to hide and too much is unseen. But it is this willingness to go into the darkness, to engage the shadows that makes the morning, the sunrise so much more welcome. The light that is shed on the object of the dark grows brighter and more pure. The object in our hands becomes clearer as we can now see exactly what is in our hands. Nighttime is a good place for mulling and determining without the conditioning of labels and recognition. You get to experience the thing in and of itself, through its qualities. While this can lead to greater understanding and connectedness with the eternal and internal, our imaginations can get the best of us in the dark. I just knew, in the dark, that my friend hated me, spent many a night herself awake and rehashing the words between us. But when morning came and light abounded, the revelation was that no, she had not.
So enough with the bookmarks, the ropes cast away. I am ready to set my sails to catch the wind and move on to new waters, to write new chapters. The darkness will always be a integral space of the journey, a sacred space of learning and un-learning. And the wandering thoughts that prod me awake and keep me such throughout the nighttime will, no doubt, continue. I do not have to tie my vessel to these thoughts anymore; I never had to in the first place. I can remember, revisit and then simply let go. It is my choice. But maybe, just maybe, it is time to pull out all of the bookmarks, close the book and get out into the sunshine.