Three o’clock in the morning a rather strange time to receive gifts one might think. I could hear from a distance, still in my dream world the rumble and vibration of a train. A train wasn’t previously part of my dream and it felt like it was waaay too close. As I came to awareness it was simply Ringo the cat laying against my ear purring and lightly tapping my face with a furry paw. But there was also a gift placed purposely on my neck. It was Manchester. Manchester is the name I’ve given the translucent green mouse I bought as an afterthought standing in line at the pet supply counter. It has become Ringo’s favorite inanimate playmate. I find Manchester in my sink, on top of my computer keyboard, in Buddy the dog’s food bowl, under various pieces of furniture, and sometimes simply being carried around in Ringo’s mouth. At 3 a.m., it became my gift which I immediately took by the tail to fling it as far as I could in the dark, hoping to get back to sleep momentarily.
But it was 3 a.m. and I couldn’t get back to sleep. 3 a.m. is a time for all kinds of thoughts to creep into the edges of consciousness. Why suicide bombers do what they do in an airport in Istanbul, Turkey, the 3rd most active airport in the world. People coming and going, leaving and coming home, with people who love them and care for them. Why do we humans sometimes believe destruction is the way to make a statement, to strike out against the world, to prove somehow we’re worthy of more than how we feel? Living with hope in the future is not always a gift we can assume everyone has been given or willingly received.
And Michael Phelps won his heat in the middle rounds of the Olympic trials. Can you see the changes in his face from the first time he raced in the Olympics? Such a baby then. This epitome of a swimmer’s perfect arm-span and leg-length and lungs and heart that seemingly process oxygen and blood at a more efficient rate than “normal” human beings. More Olympic medals than any swimmer has ever won, that accomplishment should have made his life perfect. No need to make adolescent mistakes with drugs or alcohol or searching for an identity beyond swimming. Growing up has complexities with and without an exceedingly superior genetic gift, or so it seems at 3 a.m.
And I wonder after this span of life is over for us, whether one of the gifts of eternity will be the ability to fly? I’ve always wanted to, just take off running and lift off the ground. My dad was a corporate pilot as well as a farmer the last 20 years of his career, and I loved flying with him at the controls. It somehow put into my dreams a desire to soar and dive and roll upside down and rightside up among the clouds. What a gift to feel secure enough in the dark to dream.
And as I began to drift away, Ringo and Manchester came back. This time I didn’t play the game. This time I left Manchester where he was dropped, kept my eyes closed, and somewhere I’m guessing around 3:45 a.m., Ringo and Manchester left on another adventure in the wilds of my darkened house. And the gift of sleep returned…