In this moment

By Steve Wong

It’s just after 5 a.m., and I’m sitting on my back porch drinking my first cup of coffee. I have a couple of candles lit nearby, otherwise all is still dark, except for the stars above, and, oh, there’s the moon filtering through the trees that wave in the cool morning breeze. It is mostly quiet, but I hear a chorus of roosters in the distance. They are like me, up early, welcoming the day.

            As I shuffle about, getting my coffee and arranging “my chair,” the candles, and the coffee, BeBe and Futar hear me. They come running from the other side of house, hoping I might be a possum or deer or some other animal that they might chase and catch and do what most big outside dogs do with wildlife that stray into their territory. Their barks and growls were short lived because all they found in the darkness was me. After morning pats on their heads, we all settled down in the darkness to enjoy the nothingness. They are snoozing underfoot, and I must be careful when I get up to get my second cup of coffee or I’ll step on someone’s paw.

            I have always been an early riser, but as I get older, I seem to rise even earlier. I read somewhere this is a common characteristic of ageing. I hate the thought of getting up any earlier, but, as Doris Day once sang, “what will be, will be.” As I move about the house, making my way to my private morning time on the deck, I try to be quiet and not disturb the wife. She sleeps late, letting her bedside coffee grow cold. I always apologize when I stub my toe in the darkness and wake her with a four-letter word, rather than “Good morning.” It’s not good yet, but we’ll get there.

            My mornings alone on the deck are a warm-weather ritual. When it’s cold or raining, I arrange myself in the living room, as far away from the bedroom as possible. I love the convenience of the gas fireplace: just a flip of the switch and I get instant cozy and can read by firelight. But as soon as warm weather debuts in these Carolina foothills, I migrate to the deck. I must always remember to turn off the air conditioner because nothing disturbs the peace worse than the sudden roar of the AC unit beneath the deck. Birds: I hear birds calling each other. They seem to be all around me in the treetops, growing more numerous and louder as the darkness turns to twilight. I know sunrise is coming but am glad its harsh rays are still beneath the horizon with only its ambient light creating shadows ever so quickly — too quickly.

            I try hard to not think of the workday ahead of me, but stray thoughts of what’s to come invade my mind. No, no, no. I push them back and practice a little meditation. I don’t really know much about true meditation, but my personal mantra is to be in the moment, to feel BeBe’s tail swish as she dreams of dog cookies, to hear cars and trucks on the distant road rush to and fro, to see shadows make way for more distinct and familiar shapes in my yard, to taste my sweet coffee that is now just not warm enough. Yes, the day is coming, just as it did yesterday and the day before and the day before that. But for just a few more moments as the candles’ light is overwhelmed by the dawn, I refuse to think about what’s to come.

            Good morning.

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