The WHAT'S NEW! page contains the latest medical updates. If you're wondering how I'm going as far as health is concerned, this is the place to start. Latest: Wed 27 Nov 2013. 7.20AM

Thursday, October 7, 2010

First Light nights

   ‘First Light’ always fascinated me as a concept. It’s the time when you know that a new day will follow the night you’ve just had. It’s not dawn; it’s well before that. But it’s there, almost palpable; but never a time you can pinpoint on a clock. 
   It's the time when young soldiers in the trenches looked upwards at the stars and knew that they might meet their destiny within the hour. Anyone who has no choice but to get up very early will know what it’s like. The stars are still in the sky, though just starting to twinkle out, one by one. Or millions by millions, have it your own way.
   It’s the time, years ago, I used to put on a pair of cross trainers and start my run. I lived 10 km out of town and the bitumen roads were totally empty, except for some occasional stray soul who should be in bed driving somewhere or other. Car headlights seemed such an intrusion on my semi-lit world, with eucalypts silhouetted by the purple blackness against a moving river of brilliant stars. 
   It was a beautiful time to run, as the sky got lighter and lighter. Six kilometres along the tarred road, loping along at a gentle pace, then turning around at a set point and retracing the journey as the sun came up... magical.
   I have First Light nights very often now, only I am lying in bed watching for that glimmer of change in the blackness. This is the time my thoughts flow so fast and freely that I want to capture them before they disappear. Of course, the fact that they flit through consciousness and concertina together makes them seem more perfect that they could have been, as all that’s left of them, if I’m lucky, are a few keywords - hooks to try to hang the thoughts on later.
   Often I get up, when first light has well and truly passed but dawn is still a way off. Today I write down some words, rudely scattered now by having had to focus on walking the few steps to the bathroom, evaluating the strength of the pain in my leg and the new sensation of tightness in the swollen calf muscle, and the maddening itch from the allergic reaction to the Clexane injections…. But some words are there, and I will write about ‘postcard’ letters, and the dance where at 18 I showed I was an utter nincompoop, and the approaching end of Jane’s fight with life, doctors and euthanasia, and the Saturday night rituals at the Diggers Arms half a century ago.
   I’ll get to them. They won’t come out so well as in my First Light state, but I have the luxury of not having to prove that!

[Back to Index]


  1. Yes Den, at first light the brain does tend to whirl fast. An IT guy who worked for me when we were doing a system install used to regularly wake up around then; it was too early for him to get up but often he thought he had a solution or a good idea to valuable to forget. He started to keep a notepad & pen beside his bed - after writing down some keywords he could then go back to sleep. Most times the notes made sense to him when he awoke.

  2. That's a beautiful piece of writing, Denis, and a very accurate description of the flow of consciousness -- thoughts tumbling over each other. What does the Yoga Sutra say? Something like Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha. I'm sure my Sanscrit is deplorable and my endings are all wrong, but it's interesting how Indian mystical writings start at the end point and then take the rest of the book to explain how to reach it. Loosely translated it says, to attain Yoga, consciousness must stop spinning. Half your luck. Enjoy the spinning instead.

    Looking forward to more poetry from you tomorrow. I gather you're still sitting with your leg up. I hope the pain has subsided.

  3. You're quite right - in the end the pad and a pen solution is the best thing, and I have done that before - then left the pad at my computer, and it's not there at the bedside the next time. But what's amazing is the extra difficulty I encounter with just one useful arm in getting into a position to sit up using just one arm, turn on the light [you need the same hand and arm to hold yourself up as to press the light switch!], pick up a pad and pen one-handed without losing one or the other [while still holding yourself up], opening the pad and finding a position where you can write in the pad without using the other hand to steady it. Sure, all these problems can be solved, one by one.... but how long is it even under the best circumstances that you can get all that ready and remain in the free-flow state of mind you were in? Dictaphone or similar? Each has its problems with only one good hand and one side of the body not keen to cooperate in anything. Law of Diminishing Returns and all that quickly sets in. It's true that if you get something down it does then allow you to drift off to sleep again quite often.

  4. You snuck that in while I was writing to John, Joan! Thanks for the compliment but it's really rather loose in style and could be made better, but that's not the purpose right now. Your Sanskrit is way better than mine so choose your own endings :) My mind resists the notion of enjoying the spinning if it obstructs the attainment of the goal, but in the end that's exactly what it is [the spinning], as the times for really taming the beast are few and far between.
    As to sitting with the leg up, it turns out that moving the leg into a variety of positions eases it better than anything static. The GP seems to be right about gently keeping the circulatory system flowing - I guess the Clexane has to get about to release the platelets forming the clot.

  5. You don't need a notebook or dictaphone anyway Den - as Joan said it is a beautiful piece of writing.

  6. On a mundane note, what do you do about the clexane itch? Cider vinegar can be very good. Please do continue to write whenever you can manage to, as it is so pleasing to read this and know more about your life and to be with you there, in a way. It helps me with my own writing too -to be 'clean'and straight is the best poetry,and avoiding sentimentality or pretension too. I always remember the first essay I wrote for your class, and when I read it aloud to you (such a good idea -I tell students to do that, now!) I could hear how convoluted it was. First light - longed for if you have been awake for hours and want the night to end -then I fall asleep! But I hear all the pre-dawn birds, first. Some stop singing at dawn, you know! So don't be THAT much of an early bird..

  7. A musing on taming the beast.

    I thought a lot about that after I posted, hoping you didn't think my choice of the word "spinning" devalued the activity of the mind. Certainly NOT intended.

    The Yoga Sutra says that to attain yoga, one must still the mind using some method of focus (a word, an image, a sensation). But doesn't that mean that even if the mind is stilled, thought is still there (the word, image, or sensation). Where is the yoga?

    The Secret Teachings of Tibetan Yoga (hardly secret, since I have a published copy)stresses that it is impossible to stop thought, and gives instructions on how to try and fail. It goes on to advise that only by allowing the mind to freely think and to let go of it can one go beyond thought to union with the Self, or whatever is beyond.

    To me, this means that thinking is not the "beast" at all, but something that comes to us from somewhere unknown and to be treasured and explored. Even in "going beyond" thought, thought is still there, still coming up from goddess knows where, full of ideas. Who is thinking?

    Carl Jung took a long inner dive, and he described this process of thought rising spontaneously from within as an inner volcano out of which chaotic contents arise for the conscious mind to make sense of. A brave man, as in those days there were no psychologists or gurus to help him out if he got lost.

    Denxis, I loved your story on getting you license, but goddess, I'm pleased things have changed :).

    Keep getting lost in thought. I love reading it.


Some iPads simply refuse to post responses. I have no idea why, but be aware of this.
Word verification has been enabled because of an avalanche of spam. SAVE or compose a long comment elsewhere before posting; don’t lose it! View in Preview mode first before trying to post.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.