The Half-Life of Excitement

How can an excitement, so alive and brimming out of your soul in the morning, die by nightfall? When the sun rises, you think of something that makes you almost crazy with delight; it’s the thing that gets you out of bed. You savor the thought of it and it makes you laugh, and dream, and skip down the street. Your whole body sings out because the thought of this thing—whatever it may be: writing a story, solving an equation, meeting a friend—fills you with anticipation. It asserts its necessity; you decide that it is an imperative thing, the breath of your creative life. You plan, you move toward an end, you feel the rush of wanting to do or make or be a part of something important. Ideas spin and accelerate inside your head.

But gradually the duties of the day intervene. You have to wash the dishes filling the sink. You postmark a letter to a friend. You walk to the store and buy a jug of milk or a bag of tangerines, and then you chop the vegetables, cook the meat, and scrub the pots and pans to get dinner on the table. All of these things exact some cost of energy from you, and time, and attention. If the task is unpleasant, more energy is taken away, and not easily restored. By the time the dinner things are cleared, and the porch lights flash on, your lassitude is greater than your desire, and the thing that caught your soul aflame just half-a-day ago, now barely makes a flicker in your insides. You push aside the story-writing, the equation-working, the meeting with a friend. Your hands are too heavy to do the work. You think: How can it be that a passion perishes so fast? Are dreams so fragile that a pile of dishes and a household errand can rub them away? You felt that desire was so strong, so vital; but now it passes through your house like a ghost, willing you to chase after it, teasing you, dancing in the face of your tired resolve. You wonder how much you really desire the thing, after all.

Then you tuck yourself in bed, say your prayers, and hope that sleep restores your will to be alive in that most vital way. It occurs to you that mornings are nice, and full of all the hope of beginnings; and so you resolve to write your story in the first rosy hours of the day, before the passing of hours brings you farther and farther from the space where dreams have the energy to run and ride through the patterns of your brain and the depths of your being.