I set two alarms on my watch, three minutes apart, to wake me up. Almost without fail, the first alarm interrupts a dream. Typically I’m involved in some sort of bizarre impossibility, such as trying to fight off killer whales in a public swimming pool. Or were they gigantic penguins? I don’t even know why I set the first alarm as I might as well be listening for a pin drop in a rock concert. At 7:10AM I sleep through the first alarm. At 7:13AM I stir to the distant annoying beeps of the second alarm. Why is it I have to summon every cylinder of motivation to get my fingers to generate enough energy to press the ALARM OFF button? I’d rather be saving the world in my sleep—fighting off those killer penguins with a kickboard.
The fact is I have to get up. But I might as well be a corpse sealed in a granite tomb.
The awareness of the morning creeps into view as my eyes try to open. It’s that moment when I might lapse back into sleep for ten or twenty seconds. And when I awake again, there’s a heavy brain fog that’s cloaking the memory of my dream. The details are quickly fading. I was in a pool. Or was it a pond? And I was fighting something, but I can’t recall what. Wait—it was a fish. A seal? Or was it a large black inner tube? My awakened conscious state acts as an anesthesia, erasing the recent events of my unconsciousness. The dream—and whatever the source of water was in that dream—instantly evaporates.
Two dogs lay beneath the covers: Domino, a rat terrier, and Sonic, a rat terrier dachshund mix. Sonic will sleep forever. Domino knows my alarms and prepares himself for the moment I swing my legs off the side of the bed to begin sitting up. That’s the moment he will rise into his first stretch of the day. But that moment is a long, long, long time away. At least two minutes.
Two minutes of eternity.
I lay in bed and notice just how wonderful it feels to have no weight on my legs. How wonderful it feels not to be upright. How wonderful it feels to have arrived with a mind recharged. My senses fully heightened. It’s when I think: I need to write about this. Within these two minutes, there is no rush, there are no deadlines, and there is no stress. Cocooned in a swirl of bed sheets and a blanket, I do more than just hear the birds outside my window—I listen to them. To the busy man on the street, birds are nothing more than producers of the same pestilent noise repeated over and over. But the busy man is missing it, for he is the one out of tune. He has no idea of the complexity of their communication. And so he shuffles past the trees, and crosses the street before entering a building where he is irritably late for a meeting. An hour prior, this man overslept his alarm clock and arose in a mess of hurried agitation. Somewhere in there, if he were lucky, he had at best two seconds of eternity. At best.
My time is up. My two minutes have ended. I know exactly what needs to be done in order to leave the house on time. As I swing my legs out of the bed, Domino pokes his head out into the open, then rises into his ritual stretch. Simultaneously, I lean into him and press my face against his soft neck, while slipping my hand under the covers to feel Sonic’s belly. There’s a warmth there that never fails to reassure me that I am truly connected to these animals. It’s a communication that is ours and speaks volumes.
And then the epiphany hits: I’m learning to extend my two minutes.
Copyright Ros Hill 2016