The morning I walked to work on Mars

pink mars skyIt was one of those mornings… a five snooze alarm, sleep vs shower trade-off morning, when you dream you’ve woken up and left for work then wake up and have to do it all over again. It was one of those mornings when your bed is your entire world and any universe beyond is dark, cold, alien, and empty, and the warm comfort of your sheets weights your body with the gravity of a thousand suns. You know, one of those mornings.

I waited until the last possible second before getting up, savouring each ‘tick’ with the knowledge that these were the last precious moments of self before the blind suffering of routine would rip me out of my bliss and cast me, shivering and whimpering, out into the unholy frozen city. Ok, so maybe I’m getting a bit carried away, and of course I’m grateful for all my blessings and, quite frankly, even to have a job to wake up for. But our humanity is pretty raw at 6:30 in the morning, and the gloss of rational thinking is rarely available before lunch (if at all).

Trudging along the bikepath, I was still locked in hostility – towards the weather, towards all the bikers who ‘dinged’ at me, towards the little patches of ice that seemed just as hostile towards me, and, unforgivably, towards a woman I love who is suffering so much more than myself. I’ve been trying so hard to find solutions to her problems, to guide her towards relief, but she keeps slipping deeper.

No, I told myself, right there on the path. I’ve do so much, all I can. I just need this one moment to be my own. No job, no worries, no obsessing. Let me ‘just be’ in the story of this landscape. I focused all my energy into my senses: the sharp cold smell of the Bow river, the crunch of the snow under my sneakers… I lifted my eyes up from the pavement and gasped in unabashed awe.

Calgary’s downtown skyline was on fire with a rapturous sunrise, all glowing hot pinks and soft peaches, fading high overhead into a delicate lavender border. Absolutely gorgeous, and huge! We’re ‘big sky’ country here in Alberta and this morning the colours reached far beyond their usual semi-circular modesty. This was an entirely new atmosphere, an entirely new backdrop to the city. And then it hit me. I was walking to work on Mars!

I angled the brim of my baseball cap to block out any earthly, pedestrian blue. My world was Mars and I played the story through in my mind. Only a thin yellow line separated me from the joggers and bikers on my home planet, journeying into an opposite sky. I was alone in this magical new vision. I changed the snow to dust and the buildings to alien constructions. It wasn’t hard. In the last quarter century Calgary has transformed into a hulking, though glittering, vision of past futures. But I felt a sudden gut pang of sadness. This Mars was so beautiful, yet all would be lost to time. Whatever its past may have held, our shared Mars has been blown back to red dust. But I would always have my Mars, even when the sky came back to Earth, and even when later I’d check Wikipedia and find out the dull truth about the real Martian sky.

But in that glowing pink moment of my own, I thought of the woman I love, and a new idea. Overwhelmed by the crushing enormity of making a change, she holds the first small step in her hand, but tells me she always puts it down because she thinks “it doesn’t matter.” As I stood delighting in my Mars, I realized I had crossed epic time and space by giving myself the simple permission to enjoy the moment as purely, unapologetically ‘me’ – because “I matter.” If I’ve brought back anything from my Mars, it isn’t a sample of gas or rock, it’s the gift of knowing that even when you feel like “it doesn’t matter,” you still do.

7 thoughts on “The morning I walked to work on Mars

    • Thank you! And I must say, you and your firework blog are progressing in truly inspirational ways 🙂 Hmmm, so it seems you peak in logical brain power right after meals… could it be pumpkin related ~wink? ‘Logically’ I would suggest you wait till after lunch to make any major purchases or accept any major proposals (business or otherwise!).

  1. Dear Cymbria,

    Beautiful image in colour and in words.

    One of your best. We can all relate to almost missing the spectacular by sleeping through it thinking of our worries.

    I am truly sorry for the woman you love except that she has your love a gift greater than the Alberta sky.

    • Coming from ‘a man I love’ your comment means so much to me. I must confess that this morning, I slept myself into the spectacular by dreaming – in between snooze alarms – an entire new episode of Anthony Bourdain’s ‘No Reservations’ international restaurant tour. I was co-host and the food was otherworldly incredible. And now I sit here staring at my real world breakfast wondering how this bowl of roasted beets (don’t ask) can compete with my imaginings. AH HA! More butter! …. the answer to most of life’s more challenging conundrums.

      I hope your weekend is full of the spectacular! Whether you remember to bring a flashlight or not 😉

  2. extraordinary Cymbria….you took me out of my world of emails, letters of reference, course selections to this moment here, thinking of you, and remembering the big sky of Alberta as Bear and I drove across in a UHAUL commandeered by the driver who would not release the wheel…except for one glorious hour, when I drove west, hand raised to block the setting sun…absolutely loved your words, and as David says, your love is a gift to us all.

    • Thank you Lynn! So wonderful that a Martian sunrise took you all the way to a magical earthly sunset. Must have been an extraordinary hour, all that power underneath you, so many kilometers behind you, so close to home yet still marveling in the journey. I can totally picture Bear cruising along for the ride. What a story! Now… get back to work lolz!

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