Seeing in the Dark

The sun isn’t up. Short steps and joyful voices bounce across cold floors. Unwilling to open my eyes, I listen to the girls greet the day and the dog clamor for breakfast. Not yet, I think. I’m not ready yet. Dark mornings have a way of pulling me down. I have a way of pulling them down, too.

There has been a lot going on around here lately. There is a lot going on around here all of the time, but these last two weeks have been comical. Tile floors have become concrete, popcorn ceilings have arduously been de-kernelled and walls have vanished. The transformation has been fascinating and the dust is invasive. Like sand at the beach, you wonder just how it gets into all of those crevices. I’ve been chafing a bit.

I heed the call to verticality and lumber across the crackle of pebbled mortar beneath my feet. Coffee is first but I forget which room the pot is in. The beans are in the living room, the blender for smoothies in the front bedroom and the table for the girls to eat on in their bedroom. I think the cereal may be out on the porch, but I’m not sure. Once found, each must be cleaned before it can be used. I can smell the dust. One of the girls is crying outside of Mom’s shower curtain. This is hard on them, too.

While the coffee brews I find half a dozen things to be mad about. I feel justified in my furrowed brow and even intensify it in my reflection in the curtainless window. I stare at myself and begin to feel my own validations consume me. I’m tired, I’m sore, I can’t cook in my own kitchen and my black dog looks grey from all the pummeled thin-set and sanded dry wall. This is bullshit.

Somewhere in that black morning in my black shorts and black mood I saw it. Maybe it was in my wife’s softness. Maybe it was in her unwillingness to bow down before another sixteen hour work day. Maybe it was in the skip in Lemon’s step on her way to the backyard while she waited for her dad to pull himself and breakfast together. Maybe it was in the little song Bug sings as she does pretty much anything. I don’t really know, but I saw it.

I saw that it was all my creation. Not the mess and the dust and the work and the chaos – none of that is real. It is just stuff. My mood and my energy were all my creation. My anger and my excuses were all my creation. And my way out of it would be my creation.

I’m not in control of all that happens around me but I am in control of myself. I can choose to become the dust that defiles the air and blankets those cold floors or I can rise above it and shine my light.

I’m sure I will need to be reminded of this many times again, but on that morning, while waiting for the sun to rise, I was able to see in the dark.


About Mitchell Brown

I am a stay at home dad with my two daughters who are a lot stronger than they look. When I'm not cooking, cleaning, dancing, reading, teaching, playing or protecting my eyes and groin, I am writing about this whole experience in all of its ridiculousness.
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20 Responses to Seeing in the Dark

  1. Robyn says:

    My friend, it’s been way too long since I’ve been to your blog!!! Oh my gosh… and you still have such an amazing way with words! (of course, I didn’t really think you’d lost it ; )

    It is always nice to be reminded of this. We ALL go through it, and I know I’ve said it before… but it’s just SOOOO awesome that you SEE it! It can be so hard in “that” moment to step away from it, and really remember what matters: Your wifes softness (awww!), your daughter singing at WHATEVER, etc. LIFE and FAMILY… this is what matters!

    Thanks for the reminder man! 🙂 Have a BEAUTIFUL day! *Hug*

    • This is what matters, my friend. Sometimes I get so caught up in stuff and details and complications that my vision gets a bit impaired. I’m glad that you liked this.

      Thank you again for your kind words, Robyn. It means a lot that you spend this time with me – I appreciate it more than I can say. Big hugs to you, my friend.

  2. Jared Karol says:

    This is good timing, Mitch. When my son cried YET AGAIN at 5:20, it was my turn to get up with him. Usually his cries for “mommy” don’t necessarily mean that I can’t get him. Except today. He went crazy and insisted that mommy get up with him. I thought, I can’t even do the things I don’t want to do, let alone the things I want to do–we might as well have a single parent household. So, Mommy had to get up and go hang with him while I came back upstairs and read your post. I’m going to my damndest to create something funny right now. If I do, you’ll probably see it soon. 🙂

    • Man, can I relate to “I can’t even do the things I don’t want to do, let alone the things I want to do”. There has just got to be something funny in there, right? RIGHT?!?!?

      Thanks for sharing that part of your morning with me, disregarded as you might have been. 🙂

  3. sheesh I love how you write.
    I’m kind of speechless…and choosing to rise above the dust today.
    Thank you.

  4. Justine says:

    Gorgeous writing!

    We just moved and are surrounded by chaos – boxes/bags/mysterious things unearthed from the inevitable excavation necessitated by the move. It gets to me and permeates my moods and the rest of my day. But you’re right, it’s all just stuff – I could either dwell on the inconsequential or see the place for what it will be once we chisel away at mess: our beautiful home.

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful perspective, and as a result, for adjusting mine.

    • Thanks a lot, Justine. All of this stuff we surround ourselves with do have a tendency to obscure what really matters. Home means so much more, doesn’t it? How cool that you are getting to create that.

      I am honored that I got to be a part of your adjustment.

  5. Such an important reminder…especially as the “blackness” seems to make us forget almost daily. Thanks for the ray of light in the dark.

  6. I am so happy to be related to such a sincere, dear considerate man as you represent to the world. Keep it up. I enjoy each one.

  7. mudly says:

    Ah yes, the recognition that we can change our perspective and change everything is grand isn’t it? Did some of that myself today. Get outta my head would ya?!?!

    • Mud, my friend, it is a privilege to roam around in there. That head of yours is a special place.

      Now that I have made a little space for myself I am uber energized to get to play around in your new project – actually working on something right now!

  8. TwoBusy says:

    This was really, really nice.

    Well done on all counts.

  9. David says:

    Another nice one Mitchell. Find the light and make it shine. I especially like the concept of “verticality” and am sure I will remember and use it myself sometime. I am always pleased when I make up a perfect new word for something. It is always helpful to remember just what we can and cannot control. Just look into the mirror, or maybe a dark window. I look forward to more lessons from you, my friend.

  10. Meka says:

    I absolutely love this post Mitchell. Often for me it’s at night when sleeping faces that look so angelic make me reflect on what I really experienced that day. Makes me sing” turn on your love light…let it shine on me…Let it shine let it shine” That light should guide my way through everyday, but somtimes those clouds just get in the way. Damn them!! Thanks for the beautiful reminder to let the light shine!

  11. daddygreen says:

    Great post, and my sentiments exactly as of late. There have been a lot of negative vibes trying to pull me in that direction lately.

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