As a kid, I always slept with my shades open. I’m sure at first it was equal parts “we live on a quiet street” and “I don’t know, I just forgot to pull the shades down.” But eventually it became a ritual that was a bit spiritual, and a bit Hollywood brainwashing, but overall hopeful.
Leaving my shades open allowed me to lay in my bed with my head near the window and look out at the street lamps and the stars. Staring out into the night I would talk to God, contemplate my tininess in the grand scheme of the galaxy, and look for shooting stars to wish on.
I felt more connected to all of it when I could see outside, in the quiet solitude of my introvert’s mind. There was also something inspiring about looking out into the night, like at any moment something incredible could happen. Each evening I was starring in my own introspective movie that would likely be an indie film because of its deep themes and brooding soundtrack.
I got older and moved into college dorms and city apartments. Lowering the shades was a necessity now both for privacy and sleeping past 7:30 a.m. purposes. But when I would visit my parents, I would still leave the shade open. To keep an eye out for a shooting star, or eight tiny reindeer. Just in case.
Later when I got married and had children we moved to the burbs, where no one was looking in our windows except the deer. But the shades stayed closed in failed attempts to keep children sleeping past dawn, and at this point, habit.
But every now and again I pull the shades back up before I go to bed. It’s mostly when I’m feeling overwhelmed or disconnected, or in need of a little childhood magic. I lay there in bed and look out into the universe, once again feeling small but also a part of something bigger. Sometimes the moon will shine just right through the window and I’ll be 12 years old again.
I wonder if my kids will pull up their shades. I hope they will. I can picture them speaking their own wishes and dreams out into the night sky and feeling a sense of comfort in the darkness and light.
I mean, I hope they close the shades again too because it’s really great when they sleep… And that sunrise keeps getting earlier. But just a peek wouldn’t hurt. It might even be exactly what they need.