I wake up most mornings before the alarm goes off to the sound of hot water dripping through French roast coffee grounds in the Cuisinart coffee maker. Sadie and Mitzi, my little dog and polydactyl cat, are snuggled up together at the foot of my bed, snoozing peacefully. The morning is quiet. It’s dark. It’s full of possibilities.
By the time I finish my first cup of coffee, I’m fully awake. I lace up my running shoes and drive towards downtown Austin to the trail around Town Lake (or Lady Bird Lake, depending on how long one has lived in Austin). Starting on the north side of the river, under the MoPac Bridge, I cross the river, head east to Congress Avenue, cross the Ann Richards Bridge, and then head back towards MoPac, covering slightly less than 5 miles in about an hour. I drive to my office building where I shower and change, and end up sitting at my desk around 9 a.m., ready to face the day.
But my favorite four hours have already happened. The flip side of having all this energy in the morning is that I completely run out of steam later in the day. I’m only half joking when I say I peak at about noon! Those who know me well know I’m DONE by 10 p.m. – or at times even earlier. (And no, I’m not even the least bit remorseful about my lack of nocturnal prowess!)
Most of those morning runs happen with my running partner, my sister, who helps keep me motivated and holds me accountable on those mornings when I’d rather have a second cup of coffee while snuggling with Sadie and Mitzi than hitting the trail. But sometimes life happens, and one or the other of us can’t make it. Then, we end up running by ourselves. On a recent solo run I began to think about how beautiful the sun looked coming up over the Austin city skyline, and how much I love this quiet time as the world wakes up around me.
I don’t remember being allowed as a teenager to sleep until noon, or even until 10 a.m. What I do remember is my mother bursting into my room, flipping on the light switch, and singing a rousing rendition of the camp song, “Rise and Shine – Give God Your Glory, Glory! Rise and Shine – Give God Your Glory, Glory! RISE AND SHINE AND – Give God Your Glory, Glory – Children of the Lord!”
Man, I HATED that! But it did get my butt out of bed. And I also remember my dad saying, “Get up! Daylight’s burning!” There were things to be done; chores to do; animals to be fed. Lounging the day away simply wasn’t an option. So I didn’t.
In college, I never pulled an “all-nighter.” By 10 or 11 p.m., my brain was fried. I couldn’t concentrate or retain anything I was reading. I’d go to bed when others were cranking up on coffee to push through a long night of studying. I’d set my alarm for 5 a.m. and get up, fresh and clear-headed, to study for four more hours before my 9 a.m. exam. And (with very few exceptions), I would make an A. It worked for me, but my friends gave me a lot of hell for it.
Mornings and Beginnings
What is it about me and mornings? On that recent morning run, it occurred to me the correlation between mornings and beginnings. Every day is another chance, a clean slate, a new possibility, a new chapter, another opportunity to (maybe) get it right. By nighttime there have been mistakes, angry words, impatience, imperfections, regrets. But every morning, I get to try again. And try, I do.
I’ve been pondering this blog for months – maybe years. What do I have to say? What would I talk about? Who cares? Who am I to pretend to be creative or to have a voice? I’ve been afraid to try, to risk, to dare.
As I thought about my relationship with mornings, I realized I am no longer in the morning of my life. I’m getting older. My kids are now in college. My life is more like early afternoon than 6 a.m. Or is it happy hour? I’m not quite sure. It’s not midnight yet, of course. But it’s definitely not morning anymore. How do I find new beginnings and new moments of possibility in what is no longer bathed in the soft light of dawn?
That’s what I’m trying to figure out. I think it’s called reinventing myself, and I’m trying to do it by reclaiming my creativity and reinvigorating my acting career – things I once thought where long gone from my life.
So while I don’t expect anyone to read this…I think I’ll try to write about that: about mornings, and beginnings, and creating a life that is new – even at my age. And I’ll keep getting up early to greet the day. So far, that seems to be working.
See ya in the morning.