Thirty-four minutes ago, when I woke up at 2:57 a.m., I was younger and the ice outside my windows was just as cold as it is now.
A lot of thoughts can happen in thirty-four minutes. Impossibly large numbers of thoughts invade the brain during that time. Maybe escape is the better descriptor. Doubts and wishes and hopes and regrets numbering in the thousands or maybe even in the millions rush around in a frenzy, as if racing against the clock, desperate for release before 4:00 a.m.
If we had a way of recording, on paper, all the thoughts, ideas, and emotions that take place inside our brains after we awake in the middle of the night with no expectation of going back to sleep, we’d have to shred all the forests. And we’d have to fill both sides of each sheet of paper. And the type or print would be very, very small or it would not fit on the paper made from all the forests we sacrificed.
Across the room from where I write, books and an old clock sit atop the glass insert in a small end table. Someone cut the tree for the wood for that end table, then dried and milled and cut some more. Someone measured the wood and glued pieces together. Someone applied dark stain to the finished piece. Someone applied a protective finish over the stain. And the glass; the glass for the table made from silica that someone melted, probably using machinery that defies my imagination. Using techniques of which I know nothing, someone frosted that glass and cut it into a square and carved a bevel all around its edges. Someone made the knob for the drawer in the table and someone made the screw that affixes the knob to the drawer. Someone wrapped the glass table top in paper to protect it from breakage when someone, probably someone else, shipped it to the store where we bought it.
As I think about all the stages associated with transforming wood and silica and metal into furniture and as I consider all the steps and the people involved in getting that furniture to my house, I wonder about all the people engaged in the process.
Who are they? How many of them are still alive? Where do they live? What do they eat? Do they enjoy the roles they play in creating or distributing the furniture in my house? What tragedies have befallen them or their families in the last five years? Would they recognize the table across the room from me as something they had a hand in making?
My mind is quicker than my fingers. I’ve taken far longer to write these few paragraphs than I would have thought it would take. That’s because my mind races even when my fingers are still. Even when I sit here, staring at that end table, my mind is spinning. I think of all the people who participated in the creation of that table, but my fingers do not respond. They respond only when threatened. Damn fingers!
Now, it’s after 4:00. I paused just long enough to write Sixty-Four, then returned here to finish whatever this is. I think I’ll post something else this morning instead of writing what I should. I’ll write something that gets deeper into the intricacies of my brain and where it goes when I’m the only one awake for miles and miles around.