I'm up late painting. Being up at this time of night has always been a gift to me. It's so still outside and dark. Peaceful. Few interruptions.
There was a time in my life when work was everything. I threw myself into it and it was almost completely satisfied. Add a few good friends, some film, art, novels and music plus food. That was it. That was all I wanted.
Tonight, I realize, this is it. This 4 am peacefulness is what I aim for. To feel it all day long. I see why writers and painters move to cabins to create. There in the stillness, much is possible. But I love, after a stint like this, a walk alone through the city.. a reminder of what else goes on.
The other day, I took a cab home. The driver told me he was a writer who could never finish anything. He'd be working now. He works the night shift.
I asked him who is favorite authors were. He listed many I'm not inspired to read these days: Homer, Sophocles, Hemingway. He lit up as he quoted favorite texts. He told me he could never finish anything he wrote. He said he never thought his finished product was good enough.
He said something I have been hearing since high school from frustrated men.
"I think this is hell. Not after we die. We are living this hell now."
We continued to smoke our cigarettes.
I told him I had heard that before.
He told me that he was depressed because of his age, his past, his loneliness.
I never know how to respond to that. The sorrow. I won't dismiss it, but know better than to take it on. I have been lost before in someone else's sorrow.
I was rescued by a female police officer who knocked on the door and told us to move. Hydro had taken up the other lane of the road and we were a hindrance to traffic.
I left the cab with a phone number I'm afraid to use (even though I was offered a discount on all my fares) and a slight wink from the spirit world.
I won't pretend to know what hell is and am not interested in meditating on it. But this 4:44 am artful moment feels heavenly.