All this went through my head this morning as I drove away from a sleeping family in the pre-dawn light. I met my dearest friends downtown for breakfast, and to get there I had to join the worker-bee commute. Few people in this world have such a lovely morning drive. I faced west, the sun behind me outlining eastern clouds in pink and orange and shades of gray that are too beautiful for a name. Before me lay drifts of mountains fading into banks of gentle morning clouds, the tableau rendered in black and white by winter's hand. Standing tall -- behind the leafless branches arching above, but proud before the mountains -- were skyscrapers made of dawn light, sparkling in the rising sun. And above, a sleepy yellow moon drifted downward, relieved of duty by Apollo.
This view was once familiar to me. I never took it for granted, but my morning commute now involves sweat pants and a lone set of stairs. Dog walks have reopened my eyes to the dawn, but I face east, and trade the mountains for the sun.
So today, I cracked open my window and breathed deeply until my nose chilled, and then watched the dance around me of cars and people and bustling hurry-hurry between trains and buses, weaving cyclists and cell phones into the tapestry of a city whose walls rose above me and blocked out the grandeur of both mountains and sunlight. And I missed it, the sense of purpose; the heads-down idea that if you just get there a little faster something will change and you will have made a difference. I missed it for a little while, and then I had breakfast, and came home, and quietly, slowly, without rules or deadlines, crossed a few things off my list before picking Violet up from school. And I decided that my fear, for now, is okay. I don't need to join the dance yet. And when I do, I will remember to look up to the sky and the mountains, even if it means bumbling some of the steps.