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Lions Roar : November 2009
63 SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2009 animals stole through the forest shadows by night, but few people were awake to see them, in twilight or moonlight, when creatures might well have burst forth, forbidding, distorted, maybe even ghoulish or magical. small wonder we personalized the night with demons. eventually, people were willing to sacrifice anything— wealth, power, even children—to ransom the sun, immense with life, a one-eyed god who fed their crops, led their travels, chased the demons from their dark, rekindled their lives. Whatever else it is, dawn is always a rebirth, a fresh start, even if familiar routines and worries charge in clamoring for atten- tion. While waking, we veer between dreamy and lucid (from the Latin lux, light). Crossing that threshold each morning, we step across worlds, half a mind turned inward, the other half growing aware. “I’m still a little groggy,” we say, the eighteenth-century word for being drunk on rum. It’s a time of epic uncertainty and vulnerability, as we surface from disorienting dreams and the blindness of keeping eyes shut for many hours. As the eyelids rise to flickering light and the dimly visible, it’s easy to forget where we are, even what we are. Then everything shines. paths grow easier to see, food easier to spot, jobs easier to tackle with renewed vigor. In rising light, doors and bridges become eye- catching, the peninsulas of arms and legs lead to one another. We may use all our other senses in the dark, but to see we need the sun spilling over the horizon, highlighting everything and pouring a thick yellow vitamin into our eyes. It’s as survivors that we greet each day, though we’re usually too hurried to savor the elemental in our lives: the reeling sun, moon, and stars; prophecy of clouds; ruckus of birdsong; moss brightly blooming; moon shadows and dew; omens of autumn in late summer; fizzy air be- fore a storm; wind-chime of leaves; fellowship of dawn and dusk. yet we abide by forces so old we’ve lost the taste of their spell. When the sun fades in winter, we’re instinctively driven to heights of craft and ingenuity. In the Northeast, rising humans slip from their quilted night-nests and keep warm in heat gust- ed by fires trapped in metal boxes. sometimes they venture out wearing a medley of other life-forms: sap from rubber trees at- tached to the feet; soft belly hair from mideastern goats wrapped around the head; pummeled cow skin fitted over the fingers; and, padding chest and torso, layers of long thick-walled plant cells humans find indigestible but insulating and that plants use to buttress their delicate tissues. That is, galoshes, wool, leather gloves, and cotton underwear. some humans go walking, jogging, Diane ackerman, author of A Natural History of the Senses, offers a series of meditations on dawn and decay, koans and creation.