Last Friday, I had several early morning meetings in downtown Sarasota which was less than an hours drive by auto for me down I-75, I would have picked an exit, and then made a sharp right-turn and I would have driven my car until I could almost see through the front windshield at the blue Gulf of Mexico.
Over the decades, I have driven the route hundreds of times.
So, I got up well before dawn, and I took off in the dense humidity on my 5 plus mile run, jog, and walk route from downtown St. Petersburg, onto the maroon colored, uneven brick streets for Old Northeast, onto the concrete sidewalk next to Coffee Pot Road, then I cruised across the white-painted Snell Island Bridge and then jogged back along the other side.
To my right side the street was guarded by fancy homes shaded by ancient oaks and skinny palm trees.
To my left side, the path wobbled along near the moored sailboats and yachts floating atop the dark bay waters, waters that sloshed wakes from bigger fish that have swum in from the Gulf to feed, and then the path turns inland and past The Vinoy that, at that time in the day, resembled the hotel from the Eagles’ album cover for Hotel California.
At this time of year, it was a local bunch sweating out our angst.
If you have lived in Florida for as long as I have, you’d know this time of year was not, The Season.
And, just before dawn, with this crowd, typically I was one of the youngest souls along the path.
If I jog in the hot summer, during late afternoons, the crowds age reverses, and I’m one the older kids.
But the morning crowd, they were a friendly gray-haired and balding collection of equal parts wrinkled men and women, jogging or walking alone or in small groups, perhaps with their dogs, and they would nod at me, or say hello over at my shadowy image.
I know many are well past their 80th birthday.
But the singular thought I have about them, even though they could make excuses, they still rise up, and get after it.
I hope I get to be really old, with pure white hair, and a wrinkled body, and still rise up, and get after it.
All in all, St. Petersburg’s a friendly, welcoming city.
After I had returned from Sarasota that evening, I was at my preferred watering-hole enjoying a Cuban sandwich, and a married wife and wife, I wrote it that way on purpose, because I liked them.
If you have lived alone for any length of time, you’d appreciate friendly non-judgemental people.
They had told me I looked like Andy Dufresne.
I told them I’d heard that comment before. I grinned.
Cheers! C’est la vie, I had told the happy-couple.
These days, after getting past some personal turmoil, I am quite thankful.
As I’ve aged, my hot internal torrential downpour has slowly started to calm into a warm reflective stream.
I write these blog posts to challenge my brain, my perspective, and to be blunt, the simple joy to practice the art form.
I prefer to write about my simple, day-to-day life.
Even though you’re likely reading this from social media, I have a recommendation.
In truth, I suffer from insomnia, I always have – even from my youth.
I just can’t stay asleep.
These days, I don’t fight my insomnia – I embrace it.
Perhaps my curse, was in fact my savior, because it has taught me when it was the best time in the day to write.
It’s when my mind is quiet, and the thoughts I’ve blocked out return, or interesting fresh ones appear.
If you live in a relatively safe place, if the sky is clear, go outside, and find a nice spot that allows you a good view as the orange and yellow dawn emerges from the east.
It’s those quiet moments that happen almost everyday for me here in St. Petersburg, as the sunlight burns off the dark blanket to reveal nearby me everyday life.
I think that’s the magic lesson that those seasoned citizens have learned, don’t fight it, it’s not about waiting for one more sunset.
And don’t fear the darkness, go off and defiantly trudge your own path.
I think they rise early most days, and get after it, for the simple joy to see another sunrise.