I woke up today broken.
There was no actual reason why. Or maybe there were a hundred reasons why, and the sheer number of them blinded me from selecting a single one from the storm in front of my eyes.
If I am completely honest with myself, most days I wake up broken, and what lays before me is a number of vacant hours to put myself back together again, so that when my head rests back on the pillow come night, I am in one full piece.
Most days I succeed.
Some days, I don’t.
For as long as I can remember, I have woken in the mornings before the first light of dawn, struggling to breathe, feeling as though suddenly the weight of the sheer cotton sheets is too much and the air surrounding me is a thick haze that makes the very act of inhalation impossible.
Shackles lace my feet and cuffs hold my hands in prayer, and the weight of the world forces me to me knees. So there, I rest.
But not for long.
As the world begins to lighten, I move through my practice, through poses and movements that have become as second nature to me as walking. My practice doesn’t change too much day to day: each day I curse myself for being a creature of habit, and so every now and then I’ll move from tree pose to dancer’s pose, rather than from tree to eagle, because sometimes it’s just as important to dance as it is to fly.
After my spine wakes up and my breathing becomes more natural than forced, I feel the shackles loosen and the walls around me begin to fall—not yet low enough for me to climb over into open fields, but low enough for me to glimpse the other side.
The first sign of light gazes back at me from here, and I collect a scattering of silent possessions as I sneak out the door. I leave love asleep, and ignorant to my plight, and I plead with the stones on the driveway to hush the sound of my anxious soles.
The shore catches me. Soft grains of sand without any imprint that speaks of other life are a blank canvas waiting for the day to bring it to life with wiggling toes and creative fingers, and with the march of soldier crabs and the scuffle of seagulls in competition for crumbs.
It never matters which elements greet me at that hour, for they are all a blessing: dark skies, a scattering of rain, a clear horizon. Every dawn is remarkably different, although most people would never know. I always wonder how people sleep though these precious moments. I wonder how being unconscious could be preferable to watching this daily miracle. But secretly, I am happy, for it means that usually, it is I alone; two eyes, two bare soles, one open mouth, one beating heart.
I have come to understand that the days that are overcast and whisper threats of dreariness ahead, are the ones that offer the most spectacular sunrise, for the play of light and dark is always a battle of great spectacle.
The days that are void of clouds, that see a golden sun rise over a calm sea into a cloudless pale blue sky indeed hold a beauty, but they lack the contrast, the challenge, that makes me ache with overwhelm.
By the time the rest of the world has begun to emerge from slumber, the jigsaw pieces of my body and mind are more intact. There may be one or two jagged edges left bare, but, on the whole, I am ready for the world. Ready to move through the day able to converse with people, smile at passers by, do the day-to-day things that come so easily and without thought to most.
I return home mostly healed, my morning rituals creating space in my mind to think, and space in my mouth for words to form and flow.
I surround myself in invisible bubble-wrap, fearful the world will knock me and the delicate glue that holds my shattered pieces together will come undone.
Come night I collapse exhausted, my eyelids the weight of boulders on the edge of a cliff. Most nights, I crawl into bed whole, and dreams catch me and break me again, no matter their content or how wearily I try to hold them back.
The next day I will wake broken. And go through the steps to mend myself back to wholeness. Arms have tried to hold me through long nights to keep me in one piece; they succeed for the duration of a honeymoon period, one that everyone knows will come to an end. I do not despair, I do not mind the breaks, nor the time it takes me to heal them.
But I do wonder
What I would do with all that time
If it wasn’t spent
Gluing the pieces
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Assistant Editor: Guenevere Neufeld/Editor: Bryonie Wise