Usually I sit against a willow trunk and watch night traffic pass. But tonight I lie in the grass at the tree's base. I cannot see the world around me, and vice versa. And that suits me.
The fishbone-looking branches shiver above me. The wind blows over me, stirring my hair across my face, into my mouth and eyes. Goosebumps rise on my arms.
So different from other nights this summer.
So often I sit here and look ahead. At the backs of cars. At the houses further down. At what the future could hold. May hold. Doesn't hold anymore. Will never hold. Certainly must hold. Had better hold.
I look ahead and try, somehow, to see farther than my eyes can.
Tonight, though, I lie in the grass beneath the willows. And, naturally, have to look up.
My eyes aren't used to it. They are used to training, to squinting against pressure and seeking for its remedy. My brain likewise is unaccustomed to it. My head shifts to the right, to the left; my eyes seek something solid to focus on, to work out, to puzzle through and accomplish.
I need to train them better.
Tomorrow I will be housekeeper, writer, babysitter, coworker, dreamer, worrier again. In a matter of weeks I will be all these as well as student and editor. Months from now, years from now ... wife, career woman, mother, editor, writer, speaker, and likely titles I never expected ... these few words to signify all these jumbled thoughts, hopes, problems in my ahead.
My brain runs them through the worn-down cycle yet again. Like a fraying, runaway conveyor belt. My eyes seek to the right and left for a sight more productive than the sky while I try to muddle through the future.
But ... there is suddenly less pressure behind my eyes as I face up. Less grumbling of mental machinery because there is less to focus on. The sky is clean. Uncluttered. Just the willow branches waving across my field of vision.
There is a different world up there. It is serene. And perfectly organized. Something different to focus on tonight. Something for which to wish and try to reach.
With the lessening of pressure comes epiphany, spontaneous and serendipitous. No problem-solving or gear cranking to discover it. It just comes.
Tonight. Matters. It will matter tomorrow. Weeks from now. Months from now. Years from now. Because tonight I am here. In the grass. By myself. Tonight I can be here. Under my willows. With the wind. Just thinking.
Am I conscious of this? Do I appreciate it? Can I focus on now for a few minutes and give ahead a rest? This is something to remember.
How many more such nights are left to me? I cannot see ahead. And, I realize, tonight I must appreciate what I have now. What I can see. Stop looking ahead ... for even just a little while.
Sometimes, it is better to just look up.
So tonight I lie invisible in the long grass beneath my willows. And let my eyes drift upward.