I looked across at my alarm clock as it blared a large chirping sound of birds to get my attention. Normal alarm clock sounds severely irritate me, so it was between the sound of chirping birds or the flow of water down a creek. Being that I would prefer not to pee my bed in the morning, I chose the birds. 3am came a bit too soon today. Clearing the crust out of my eyes, I went back and forth in my mind on if I should stay in bed another 30 minutes. I have woken at 4:30am for years and have grown accustomed to it. The extra hour and a half time difference obviously made a huge impact on my sleep patterns. I decided to drag my body out of bed and have my feet touch the ground. I almost tripped as my tired legs decided they wouldn’t wake with the rest of my body. I made my way for the bedroom door when I heard my dog jump down from our king size bed. Stanley (my dog) didn’t like waking this early either, yet he would always follow in the chance that I was going to the kitchen for food. Step by step, I made my way downstairs. The dark of night swarmed me as I set foot downstairs and stepped away from the upstairs light.
Sitting in the dark, my beautiful wife. I could see that she had been fighting sleep for a bit now. Being that she had been up since 11pm with our newborn, I knew she was ready to pass the baton. Our newborn baby was lying nestled perfectly against my wife’s body. A perfect picture that epitomizes motherhood. What I didn’t see at that moment was the frustration had from the evening. The numerous feedings trying to get him to eat every ounce, while he struggled to get out of his swaddle. The several bottles and diapers that lay across the ground, served as a reminder of the battle from the night before. Her eyes looked up at mine with a small amount of excitement to see me. Going through a summary of the night. He ate at 1:30am and then has slept from then until now. My tired mind, trying to compute what she was saying. The challenge of course was the fact that my mind was thinking more about sleep, than it was about remembering schedules.
The couch creaked just a bit as my wife shifted to her side and got up and handed me our child. The view of my child’s face lit up my soul. Those eyes closed ever so tightly. I couldn’t imagine what he would be dreaming, if a baby were to dream. The light colored baby hair softly draped across the top of his head. Perfect skin with not a single wrinkle of experience set in. Later down the road, years will come and go and so will the perfection of his skin. As my wife pushed his body off of hers and gently upon mine, I saw small movement from my son as he adjusted to his new placement. He looked as if he would wake, but slowly shifted and fell back to sleep once again. I took my seat on the couch as my wife made her way upstairs to get some sleep. Stanley nudged up beside my son and I, and slowly curled up and closed his eyes.
I grabbed my phone and started scrolling through Instagram. Sadly a downfall with the pandemic was that I became more and more attached to social media. Better or worse, really depends on the day and content. At this time I started scrolling and saw various friends on vacation. Their perfect Instagram posts of them with pictures in Hawaii basking in the sun at their poolside hotel, or in places like Spain and Iceland. Various excursions and enjoying every moment of the world that they can take in. I thought to myself, I remember those times. I remember taking those photos and checking in at top locations around the world. Enjoying the good, bad and ugly with vacation. It seems like Instagram doesn’t show the reality of the situation always. I forget how often the reality is quite different than the picture you post on social media. It doesn’t matter, because the only thought in my mind, while scrolling is the smile of the person and the thought of the experience. A sense of envy quickly comes across my mind. Almost like I had never traveled before having a child.
I think back to our experience in Alaska. An amazing state that has all of the natural beauty that I could ever ask for. Alaska was amazing and I would do it again in a heart beat. Yet, I remember crystal clear, the difference in my Instagram posts versus the reality. The thing that stands out the most is the night that we saw the northern lights. We booked an Airbnb right outside of Denali national park. The view was epic. Walking out onto the porch, we had an unreal view of Mt. Denali. I checked the forecast for the night and it showed that the northern lights were unlikely to see. I went to bed thinking that once again I would miss the glory of the Aurora. I was fast asleep when my father jumped into our room around 3am. He thought he could see them in the sky. I cleared my eyes and scrambled to get dressed as it was chilly out. I ran down the stairs to get my camera and tripod. My fingers were numb as I tried to stabilize them enough to set my camera to the perfect conditions. Denali came into view and I could see the mist of the Northern Lights above. An extremely slow shutter speed was set and I awaited with anticipation. The view without the camera was subdued, but as the photos came through, the sky was unreal. Green streams crossed the sky. Absolutely Instagram worthy for everyone to see. Was it worth the post and the excitement from people commenting about the amazing views they saw. In those times, of seeing nature in its purest form, you lose sight of your past and future. I lost sight of the bills, problems in my life, and job. The only thought in my mind was the present.
I turned my thoughts to my times that I had and the reality of the travel. I think I forget sometimes how good I’ve had it. I’ve traveled most of the United States and many countries in Europe. I’ve enjoyed everything possible these places could offer. We chose to not have children right away, so we could experience travel while we were young. I looked down at my son and stopped scrolling Instagram. I became present for the moment. Feeling the air he was breathing as he slept, the weight of his body in my arms and the darkness surrounding me. I then shifted my thoughts to the future. I now have a son that I can share these travel experiences with. I’m excited to see his eyes light up when he sees the true form of nature. Historical sites across the world and delicious cultural dishes. I look forward to those moments that we can experience together. It’s not the time that I’m missing currently, it’s the time right now that I need to experience in the present. I’ll get back to travel soon, with a new partner at my side. Luckily at the moment, social media isn’t needed to experience my best life. It’s swaddled up in my arms every morning.