Gift Of The Night
One evening when I was eleven, my younger brother, my older sister, my best friend Palmer and I were looking for something to do. It was a windy, stormy Friday evening, dinner was done, and the world outside our windows looked brightly dark, the rain clear but the sky cloudy, the trees frantic in the wind. The night itself seemed alive and interesting. “Outside!” I said, and we donned our coats and made for the yard. The wind beat in the trees, the clouds rushed east, but we were safe. We were privy to all the life of a storm without the threat. At first, this was enough. At first, merely being outside feeling both small and happy beneath the mighty night was enough. But then the bag appeared. It was a plastic shopping bag, and it arrived on the wind out of the night, full as a sail, ghostly and alive as it flew east. The bag raced toward us, suspended over our heads like a fish on a stream of air. There was no question that when it dipped with the wind that we should try to catch it, and there was no question that when we did catch the bag it was cause for celebration.
That game was too fun to play just once. So one of us held the bag at one end of the yard and released it into the wind, and the other three had to stop it before it made it past the cherry tree. Again and again we played release and catch until I found four long sticks, and now we were tribesmen, and the bag our pray, and now we had to stake it with our spears in the night, the bag that came alive when given to the wind. We were free. We were not in the house doing dishes like my mother, we were not in our rooms doing homework, we were not locked in school: we were free to chase the current of pleasure wherever it led us.
So I always thought—until I started writing a daily column for an online magazine. Day after day, week after week, and then year after year I had to find something of interest to write about. The more I wrote, the more I understood that anything—a rainy day, a shower, a bad night’s sleep—led to what had always interested me most, the intersection of creativity and everyday life. We weren’t free that night because we didn’t have to do dishes or homework, we were free because we were living the gift of play, the search for the current of pleasure in everything.
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