Friday, December 3, 2010

Pre-dawn Urban Safari

There was a chill in the air as we walked to the local artist’s cafĂ© in the pre-dawn dark.  My co-conspirator and fellow writer. the Ravendove and I made a pact to break open a new creative window and then see what escaped.  At 4 am there is not much happening at the place, one older guy drawing with colored pencils and a group of four chatty, young people apparently pulling an all nighter.  Finding an agreeable table in the quietude was easy, not like during the day when the place is filled with single individuals and their laptops.  At this hour a vibe of mystery lays heavy and the 70s funk music adds to it in the background.    Our plan was to look at the same old, same old with new eyes.  Eyes that might see new and different stories without the overlay of habit and pattern.  

We sure did see different stories; the guy doing an intense calisthenic work-out on the boardwalk, the homeless sleeping on the beach 100 yards apart, the go-getter vendors staking their place on the boardwalk, the bleary eyed kid bumming a cigarette, and the locked restrooms.   After sunrise the people of the night slowly fade away and a new crew comes out; a middle-aged couple on their morning walk, the backpacking kids lingering outside the coffee house, the street performer with his bulging muscles glistening in oil, and the salt of the earth waiting for their bus to work.  

This experiment awakened me to the need to change setting and/or set to stimulate reinvention.  Long familiar with the refreshment and renewal that comes with travel to unusual places with no fixed agenda, I consciously opened a crack in the routine reality of my home neighborhood.  Same setting with a different mind-set, the mind-set of the middle of the night.  Through that sliver emerged a ‘new’ place, new characters, with new energy.  As we age, it is common to become habituated in thoughts, habits, and emotions.  These are the default that often leads to a stifling ennui to our lives.  The relief and excitement of travel can store energizing fuel for the mundane of our lives at home.  That experience is not only available out of town but right where we dwell.  The challenge of reinvention and revival, demands a new mental set.
Thinking won’t get you there but action will.  The pre-dawn safari awakened my exploring spirit which then can be tapped for potential new passions that can get bogged down in ‘been there, done that.’  Now, I feel ready to tackle that long submerged plan to learn guitar and to take up badminton and write that next chapter in the book.  Middle of the night mind set automatically shifted the familiar neighborhood setting into an exotic locale.  I saw new people, different shops, cultural variety all on a two mile walk from my home.  The netherworld of the graveyard shift was the spark plug that stimulated me without suffering through the invasion of privacy at the airport, without the back stiffness of a long car drive, and without the hang-over of overindulging in my drug of choice.  Renewed and re-calibrated, I was back on an efficient and effective path for exploring and developing new passions and living the dream deferred.