The Scientist

I woke this morning from a dream-soaked sleep. The alarm clock letters read 5:53. I had a distinct sense of unease, as if I wasn’t alone in the room. I lay there a minute in bed, unmoving, listening to the wind and the waves, then got up for a glass of water.

I caught the moon, a fierce orange ball just a few days from full, in the corner of my eye. It was minutes away from plunging into the Gulf. I thought for a moment that my unexpected waking was a blessing, and grabbed my camera to capture that one, still instant before dawn. Back in bed, a lay awake for what seemed hours, rolling over worry in my head like a shiny stone.

The website redesign. The broadband project. The un-hired new hires. My fifteen employees. My credit card debt. My empty apartment. My health. My love life, or lack there of. The winter that lay in wait for me back home.

A thousand little anxieties poked and prodded me there on the edge of sleep, so much so that the once soothing sound of waves became grating, like fingernails on a chalboard. I pulled a pillow over my head and prayed for morning.

When morning finally came a few hours of fitful sleep later, I pulled on my running shoes and began stretching. Laying on the living room floor, knees to my chest, I replayed my uncle’s advises, and set a course.

“Nothing is achieved without measurement. Do your research. Set goals. Write them down.”

Finish the book. Arrange each chapter around the women in your life. Be honest to a fault. Embarass yourself. Trust your voice. It’s conversational. It’s first person. It’s yours. Use it. Don’t worry about the outcome.

Record the album. Track the drums and bass at Dough’s studio. Finish it at home. Don’t make a thousand, make one hundred. Your audience is there. They’ll support you. You have the songs. You’ll figure it out. Don’t worry about the outcome.

Order a couch. Get a good one, not something flimsy from Ikea.

Run more. Ride more. Swim more. Be good to your body. You’re getting stronger every day.

Put your shoulders back. Speak less. Listen more. Trust yourself.

A few minutes later, I realized that I was laying there in the deep pile carpet, neither strecthing nor moving. I noticed a winged demon in the ceiling, then commanded myself to find a happier visage. I searched and searched the off-white stucco to no avail. All I could see was the winger demon, teeth bared, swooping down on me. I counted to ten, stood up, and went outside to run.

The colors are so intense here, such rich blues and greens, that it becomes difficult to imagine anything different. I ran a few miles around the well-groomed wide boulevards, then cut westward to the beach. Once back to my condo, I unlaced my shoes, took off my shirt, and began doing push-ups and sit-ups. I didn’t do many. I am not that strong. But I pushed myself just a little harder, just a little further, than I wanted to. Chest heaving, brow dripping, I walked to the ocean, and slipped beneath the cold, hushed surf.

Later, flipping through Thomas Merton’s “The Seven Story Mountain” on the beach, I read this passage, then dog-eared the page for future reference. That future is now.

Indeed, the truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most: and his suffering comes to him from things so little and so trivial that one can say that it is no longer objective at all. It is his own existence, his own being, that is is at once the subject and the source of his pain, and his very existence and consciousness is his greatest torture. This is another of the great perversions by which the devil uses our philosophies to turn our whole nature inside out, and eviscerate all our capacities for good, turning them against ourselves.

I payed down 50% of my credit card debt just now. Then ordered the couch. In cash. It’s nearly seven feet long with deep, soft cushions and wide, angular arms. It is modern, and cool, and timeless. I custom ordered it in charcoal gray fabric, with stainless steel legs. It arrives May 9th, just after the launch of the broadband project, and just before the launch of the website redeign.

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