DAYS 72-86: The 12th Minute & The 12th Minute Redux

orange and pink sunrise with trees
Brian Hogan

The jungle gym of life that must be traversed to actually try and see the sun every day can be very challenging. Once you maneuver around the clouds, and adjust your social life to fit the sun’s schedule you think you’ve go this sun-gazing thing down. But the tiniest little blip in the schedule and you easily miss a day. Any large blips in the schedule and you can find yourself missing whole chunks of nourishing light as you try mightily to get your ass out in front of the sun before it sinks below the cityscape for yet another day. After my 11 minute and 50 second day in mid-June things started to crack and crumble for me in terms of my time spent gazing. The following day was supposed to be twelve minutes; I estimated the angle of the sun wrong and by the time I began gazing I was only able to get to 9 minutes and 45 seconds before the sun set behind the sunset strip in West Hollywood. I managed to gaze successfully for the next five days (with the exception of the 12 minute and 30 second day), but by the time I got to the day I was going to do 13 full minutes things took a drastic turn toward the busy-as-hell. I didn’t know it at the time but I was going to miss the next 7 days in a row as I prepared my business to run without me for five weeks while I took a trip back home to visit my new born niece. 

Charlotte, who I call Charlie, and who I will eventually call Chuck (when my sister and brother-in-law aren’t around because they hate that) was born on June 7th. I have been planning a five week trip back to Connecticut to see her and love her while she’s still smaller than a football; she was a mere 5 lbs and 9 ounces when she arrived on the planet. I thought I was in love with her before I left Los Angeles, because the pictures of her were certainly captivating and beautiful, but upon seeing her I actually fell in love. What I was calling love before was just theoretical fascination, obligatory excitement, imitation affection. It was the saccharine Sweet-n-low version of the genuine love she inspired in me as she slept in my arms that first afternoon upon my arrival in Black Rock CT. 

As I prepared my marijuana collective to run without me, the blips in my schedule kept me and my new dad, the sun (who actually does give hugs), apart. I was busy training a full staff to work the shop. I was hard at work updating training manuals and calling suppliers to get the shelves fully stocked. Each day as the mounting “To Do” lists cluttered my mind, my mental clouds kept the sun at bay. Each night I’d come up for air feeling like I’d accomplished a great many things only to find the sky already dimming and the sun waving good-bye from the other side of the concrete stalagmites rising up between me and the solar energy I was again starting to crave. So even though I made it to twelve minutes and fifty seconds before my week of accidental vacation from the sunlight I have decided to rewind my gazing experiment by a week. This morning July 1, after settling in at my sister’s home for the next few weeks I gazed for the first time in seven day for twelve full minutes, instead of moving onto thirteen, where I actually left off. I would rather have my experiment finish a week later than anticipated in January than miss even a few seconds of the prescribed amount of solar energy that I’ve been drinking in with my eyes. 

Baby Charlie, it seems, is in full support of me gazing at sunrise while I’m in Black Rock, because she wakes up every morning about ten minutes before the sun does to tell me loudly and in no uncertain terms that I am not supposed to stay asleep anymore. Maybe she’s just hungry, but there is something in the way she cries that makes me think she’s saying “get the hell up Uncle Brian, I want to be the first ever baby who has an uncle with superpowers.” Okay, Chuck, I’m up, I’m up. Finally awake, and tucked away safely in Black Rock, away from the distractions and accelerated pace of my daily life in Los Angeles I felt a surge of excitement. I was going to gaze for the first time in a week and as I let the grogginess drain from my eyes it felt like Christmas morning. This was going to be perfect. I’m surrounded by family. I’m free of my regular work responsibilities. And I’m a mere half mile from the beach where the sun will be floating up above the ocean in all it’s deep orange glory. This is going to be a blissful morning. 

Then the Universe, with it’s wicked sense of humor, began interfering in my best laid plans. As I tip toed around the house trying not to disturb Charlie, oddly resting very peacefully now, I became quietly frantic as I couldn’t find my sisters car keys. You can’t get loud when the stakes involve waking a sleeping new born so I silently and venomously cursed my sister up and down for not leaving her keys out for me. I mean, geez, all she has to do is stay at home and take care of a new born baby and she let this slip her mind, it was unfathomable. So, after decidedly not forgiving her for her negligence I walked to the beach in that east coast humidity that makes you feel with every step like you are slaving over a hot pot of stew, not walking breezily toward the beach. I finally found a spot to gaze, kicked off my shoes, set my timer, and with all the familiar sensations of giddiness, began to gaze. Then the beach gnats started in on me. Landing on my lip, on my eye lashes, anywhere you basically couldn’t ignore them. I found myself saying out loud “could you stop?” as if the gnats spoke English. “Okay, that’s enough,” I fired again, knowing deep down the asshole gnats did speak English but were choosing to ignore me! The gall. So I began flailing my hands around trying to smack at the little fuckers. To any onlookers I probably seemed mentally ill, talking to myself and flailing wildly, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t crazy! These English speaking gnats were ganging up on me and ignoring me. It felt like high school all over again if I had gone to high school with bugs instead of jerks. 

I kept telling myself to relax and calm down, to enjoy the gazing. After all this experiment was my idea and I love gazing. But not today. Once the timer finally dinged I took one last frantic swing at the gnats and then grumpily made my way home, feeling pissed as hell and wanting to shower. 

When I arrived back to the house all was again quiet, so I was tiptoeing, as if I were sneaking into a VIP room instead of my sister’s apartment. I made my way to the bathroom to shower and found that all the towels I had seen in there the previous evening were gone. I checked the laundry, nothing. The only towels around were the fancy towels that are “just for show” as my brother-in-law Craig tells me. He takes his home decor very seriously. I finally just hopped in the shower and then secretly and carefully used one of Craig’s decorative towels to dry off. I say secretly because I folded it back up and Sleeping-With-The-Enemy-style I adjusted the towel to line up perfectly on the rack so it looked dry and untouched. Then I started putting away the dishes, and still wanting my sister’s keys, I may have let one or two plates clang a little louder than necessary. Finally Charlie stirred. When Cheryl emerged I said flatly “You didn’t leave me your keys.” She was still groggy and confused but managed to squeak out “but you drove her last.” Oops, I remembered right then that she was right and I sheepishly found the keys in MY OWN bag. 

What did I realize from all of this? Besides the fact that I am still a bit of a dick and the sun still has some work to do inside me, I also realized I am going to have to remain committed. The universe organizes my circumstance sometimes like Moses parting the river Jordan and I can just glide through my days without a care in the world (okay so they were running for their lives and it may not be the best analogy but you get the idea). Other times the universe acts more like the God that Job or Jonah knew, infesting me with gnats instead of boils, baby cries instead of locusts, getting swallowed up by my schedule instead of a whale, but through those times, just as much as the times that my circumstances clear a path for me like the parting of the river, I have to make the conscious choice to walk my path. It is up to me to seek out the sun, not up to to the sun to seek me out. Seek and I shall find. And like the keys that I found in my own bag, after the sun gazing today I started to find my center again. 

SIDE EFFECTS: Seven days without the sunlight after three months of gazing is like 7 hours without a cigarette if you’re a pack a day smoker.

BENEFITS: The sun comes up no matter what comes up for me, so like a good parent, you can count on it, and it will always shed a new light on things for you. 

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About Brian

About Brian

Brian is a Writer, Clarity Coach, Filmmaker and Adjunct Professor who loves teaching and learning, and living in the uncertainty of it all.




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