A Sky, Conflicted

Date & Time:
Thursday, November 6, 8:18am. It feels more like 5am. My mind is cloudy and coffee isn’t helping clear the fog.

The local Starbucks. I came here earlier this morning to get some work done and was surprised to find, upon entering the store, that Starbucks’ “Christmas-mode” was in full force. I double-checked the date on my phone to confirm that it was, in fact, November 6, and then tried to reconcile this with the sound of “O Holy Night” playing on the speakers and red coffee cups everywhere.

I always forget how this Starbucks comes alive just after 8am; packed with commuters in a rush to catch the bus and chatty groups of women who appear – noisily and all dressed in the same jeans-and-booties combo – from offices nearby. I’ve usually left – fully-caffeinated and with multiple emails sent – by this time, but today I experience the overwhelming, frantic energy radiating from this crowd of coffee-craving customers.

I can’t get any work done because I’m nosy and curious and instead of focusing on the document on my computer screen I’m trying to listen in on my neighbors’ conversations. There is an inverse relationship between my productivity and the level of good people-watching in any space. I often want to tweet something #overheard but then I remind myself to consider respecting people’s privacy.

Foggy. Foggier than yesterday; the kind of fog that renders the entirety of the Salesforce Tower invisible. Good thing I’m outfitted appropriately: in a full-on groutfit, grey sweatpants and a grey jacket, with a dress in my backpack for when I get to the office. Sweatpants make bus commutes more comfortable, that’s just a fact. I don’t make the rules.

Listening to:
Nothing. Well- Starbucks’ Christmas playlist, I guess. Earlier this morning I spent (way too much) time lying in bed listening to various renditions of “Amazing Grace” because I was sad and felt the need to amplify my already-emotional state with an incredibly beautiful song. I probably could have used something a little more enthusiastic and pump-up-y, but I’m not always my own best friend.

Later this evening:
I walked the few blocks home from the bus stop as the sun was setting. I stopped for a long while outside my door to stare up at the sky. Everything felt hazy and weird: my brain, the sky. Like neither of them could make up their minds: am I colorful or tired? Half the sky was shrouded in fog and the rest brilliant puffs of pink.

I watched traffic pass on the freeway to my right and noticed how telephone wires framed the still-translucent moon. At the bottom of my street bike commuters in hats and gloves dodged UPS trucks making their way in and out of the warehouse garage. I love cities during rush hour; the purposeful energy of the throngs of people walking and biking and standing on buses; everyone looking like they have somewhere to be, someone to go home to. When I’m feeling sad or hopeless I’m reassured by the sight of these commuters, like their purpose gives me purpose. In those moments I like to believe – wish, even – that everyone is just a few blocks away from a safe home and a warm meal and hugs from family.

Some Things I Thought While Watching the Sun Set This Evening

Feel free to call me out as hypocrite here; I know I’m usually the person running and riding and squashing around like crazy. But today, the only exercise I got was walking two blocks from my front door to watch the sunset (OK, fine, also to pick up dinner at the Whole Foods hot bar because I’m a lazy and impatient piece of garbage who didn’t want to wait for pasta water to boil). And as I watched the exceptionally beautiful sunset (again, probably played a role in my current sentiments) I thought to myself, “I don’t need any more from ‘exercise’ than this.”

By which I mean that even though I have spent the majority of my life playing sports or being active, there’s only so much the intense physical activity is necessary for my happiness. I run and ride and hike because for me, to be outdoors is to be happy, no matter what it is I’m doing. To be able to sit outside and watch the sunset, or to spot the new flower blooming in front of my neighbor’s house, or to smell the ocean or the eucalyptus trees when they’re nearby; that is happiness.

And the feeling of my legs underneath me and my breath colder against the becoming-crisper October air; that is happiness.

And to notice: the smallest corners of the earth, my breath, the simultaneous silence of a sunset and the background cries of a bird or a child; that is happiness.

When I heal I will return to my sports and my jogs, I can’t pretend I won’t. There’s something about my heart beating hard in my chest and the burning of my quads that gives me an endorphin rush. But after not having any of that for the past six weeks – and believe me, I never thought I’d say this – I genuinely think I’d be ok without it. As long as I have this sacred earth’s nature, and the ability to notice and feel even the smallest moments of beauty and awe within it, I think I might just be alright.

(P.S. I wrote this stream-of-consciousness while sitting outside, in the dark, on the sidewalk outside Whole Foods. When I say that these are my unfiltered thoughts, know it’s no exaggeration.)