Four AM

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Four AM isn’t always for me, if I’m up at that hour I usually haven’t slept yet, and the burn of alcohol still invades my tongue. My mind still was clogged with fog, thicker than the mist that drifted through the pines beyond my tent walls. Snippets of memory from the night before drifted in the dark of the forest, making me question whether I still was sleeping or not. My fingers tingling nervously as I watched her hang out over the edge of the waterfall, fingers dug into a crease in the rock, trying to spot the bottom through the heavy cloud. In the dark everything is exciting, she says, the night is for adventure. I stir and roll over, shaking her in her sleeping bag, curled as tight as she can against the warmth of my back. Do we wake up and try to catch the sunrise, or do we huddle into the warmth of our bags, and watch the morning light brighten the forest.

Either way it’ll be worth it, but we would regret it if we didn’t try.

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The early bird gets the worm, that’s what they say isn’t it? Four AM wake up calls don’t feel like that, not when your bleary eyes try to blink away the deep crust of sleep that had embraced you. You have to wonder whether it is worth it, whether being happy in bed is better than a tiring morning trek. You can do it later. Get up, that little voice tells you. Listen to it. That adventurous soul inside of you knows more about you than you do. If you put that voice back to bed, let it hibernate, your mouth will wake up bitter, and your body will yearn for that first touch of golden light on the mountains.

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We hiked, hoping the glow of dawn would burn off the thick fog that poured down the mountainside. In the chill we moved uphill, feet tapping out the miles, stretching our bodies towards the sky. The summit wasn’t what we expected, it was better. As sunrise loomed, the gray cloud that hung suspended above our heads trickled like a glacier down into the valley, moving like the tide down mountainsides, washing through the autumn colors.

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As we sat, huddled together for warmth, watching the horde of fog move solemnly through the dulled fire of fall leaves, shapes unfolded in the mist. Twisting shapes of clouds coalesced into ships, racing over the waves of mountains, and down into the valleys below.

My mind always carries that fog of war, of fighting itself for survival. Four AM wake up calls do little for me, my mind is always asleep. Wake up, you say, crawl from bed and out into the gloom. You’ll learn something, amidst the mountain haze. You are filled with such passion, don’t let it go back to bed, wake up when it does.

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Sleep is no way to hide from who you could become.

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