Alpha was grumpy. I said “Good morning…” and tried to cheer her up. It didn’t work. She had that expression like, “I’m in a bad mood, and I’m gonna hang on to it as long as I can.”
I know that sometimes we (humans) are perverse. Sometimes we cling to anger… jealousy…. bad attitudes… and bad moments stretching them into longer than the ten or fifteen minutes they merited. But I also know gaining some perspective on that can help.
Beta came to the table, poured her bowl of Life (cereal) and milk and went straight to eating. Alpha still sat there in front of her untouched cereal bowl of the same. I looked at my watch. For some reason, the song ‘Time’ from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon popped in my head. I started to pull the album up on my phone to play the song. Instead, I went with something else:
“It’s dark when I’m first there.”
Now, with Alpha and Beta, I’ve learned all I need to do is say something like that and then wait. A question will come.
“Where?” Beta asked.
I pointed across the kitchen, over the bar, across the family room, to the French doors into the backyard. “Out there.” I sat down next to Beta and looked at her. “Early in the morning, when I get up, it’s still dark. At first, it seems quiet but then as my heart stills and I’m in that moment… it happens.”
Beta was eating but listening. Alpha wasn’t. She still had her face cradled in the palm of her hands with a flat, bit of a frown, look on her face. “I hear and see the day coming alive.” I stood and got some orange juice, came back and sat but this time next to Alpha. “You see,” I continued. “It’s the same each day… the only difference is how the season feels on my skin. But warm or cool, I know what’s going to happen.” I smiled at Beta. “It’s certain.”
“What is?” Beta asked.
I turned sideways so I could also see Alpha. “It starts slow. The darkness hardly changes at first. Then you see the sky beyond the trees and just over the fence. It’s getting lighter. Sometimes it’s a grayish light… sometimes it’s a warmer sliver of yellow-red. It comes up, and you feel it. The day is being born. It’s no longer dark.” I knocked back the last of my juice and put the empty glass down next to Alpha’s hand. She had lifted her face from her palms, and they now rested on the table. I patted her hand, and she shifted a bit. “I love it when there’s a breeze because it creates its own sound, coming through the pines, and it ebbs and flows. So there I am with the sky brightening and the wind singing. From the darkness and quiet comes light and sound. And that makes me happy.”
Alpha turned toward me but didn’t say anything. “Why does it make you happy?” Beta asked.
“Because as I feel the morning… seeing the light coming up makes me think of how smiles are born, too.” Alpha had a puzzled expression. I knew she was trying to work that out; to understand what I meant before she had to ask. I leaned to the side and tapped her chin with my index finger. “Sometimes inside our heads… it’s dark. We’re not happy. Something’s wrong, or something’s pissed us off. Now the thing is… we all can make a decision to stay in the dark… stay pissed off and unhappy. Or we can realize that there is always the dawn and if we’re willing to be part of it the simple beauty of that realization will or should make you smile.”
I brushed Alpha’s cheek. “And you have such a pretty smile!” And then it broke through. Just like the light beyond the trees and over the fence. Her smile. I gave her a kiss and then rose to do the same for Beta. “We decide how we spend our time.” I picked up Beta’s empty cereal bowl and gave Alpha’s a look. She saw it and lifted her spoon; a grin now on her face. I took Beta’s to the sink; pulled my phone out and pressed play… and then started singing “Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day…”