I love to sit in my hot tub at night, as late as possible. I love to soak and relax and slowly melt into a state of sleepy happiness.
I usually go out after everyone in my neighborhood has gone to sleep. I turn off all the light in our house, and I sink into the steamy bliss of the water. As it rises above my aching back and begins to soothe my sore shoulders, I tilt my head back, as far as it will go. The swirling heat of the hot tub jets surrounds my stiff and painful neck, rising to my ears and up across my always clenched jaws.
I relax. I let go of control. If I am very lucky, and very attuned, I am able to ignore the words that define each moment: I allow myself to simply feel. I am happy/sad/lonely/proud/curious/angry/anxious. I stop trying to define and explain each feeling.
When I go outside at night, I turn off all of the lights in the house. I step onto the deck, embraced by the total darkness. I feel and hear the dogs as they take their places around me, but I am adrift. I float in the inky darkness of the woods around my house.
And when I reach the edge of tub, and lower myself in, I am embraced by the heat. I feel the salty, briny arms of the water as they wrap around my ribs and back and neck and jaw. I sink into the healing hug.
And I always, always, tilt my head back, just as far as it will go. And I let my eyes rest on the sprinkle of silver above me. And I wait.
There is always a shooting star, arcing across the heavens, gone before I can fully grasp that it is there. And I always arch my neck backwards, just that tiny bit more, to catch the next spark from Heaven.
But I rarely catch a glimpse of that second miracle; I rarely have a chance to cast my heart’s most fervent wish into the heaven’s before the stargazing is over.
And I pull myself from the briny water, rub my arms and legs to remind them that they are earthbound tools. I wrap myself in my towel, and cast one last, longing glance at the heavens.
Then I take myself to bed. I wrap in my covers, my teeth brushed and my face washed clean. I curl onto my side and let myself slip into sleep.
But when I wake up in the morning, I begin to wonder. What did I miss in the night? How many gorgeous golden stars went arcing across my heavens? How many beautiful, elusive animals went prowling past my house as I slept? How many tiny insects crept carefully around my blooming flowers?
I wonder, so often. What is it that we miss when we curl ourselves into our beds at night? And what wouldn’t I give to be awake and alert for just one full day, to see what it is that I have missed.