An Early Riser

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My friend has the most comfortable temporary bed I have ever slept on, and given some of the camp-beds, air-beds and sofa beds I have used in my time, that is saying something. My sister has a sofa bed which I swear was once a medieval torture devise*. After a restless night, trying to find a comfortable position around the lumps of the feet, it is not uncommon to awaken with your shoulder where your neck should be, or indeed even a knee where your neck should be. Suffice to say, having slipped easily into sleep and remained there all night without trouble, my friend’s temporary bed is the kind I imagine god has his angels sleep on when they come over for late night universe discussion**.

However, it did occur to me that this particular sofa-bed has a slight advantage in that my sleeping habits have improved greatly over the last few years***. They were less habitual during my University days and didn’t improve much for some years afterwards. Somehow, if you can believe, somewhere over the last two years or so, I became what is known as an ‘early riser’^.

Yes, I too used to believe these people were either insane or taking some magical morning pill sold in shady corners of impoverished neighborhoods. When I had to, I could struggle up at 7:00 to be somewhere necessary for 9:00, but I was never happy about it, yet I knew people who could hop up from their beds at 6:30 with all the relish and cheeriness of a Disney princess. Part of me envied these freaks of nature, and another part simply took them for unicorns.  Either way, being able to rise from bed early and happily did not feel possible in my case.

That was, of course, until a few years ago when I found myself agreeing to a job which required me to be ready and raring no later than 6:00am. To many people, including myself today, this is not actually an early start as early starts go. My father has woken at this time practically every working day of his life. What you must understand is that for myself, who had never thought 6:00am a decent time for anything (save perhaps getting to an airport) this was indeed a notion which invited horror. Yet, it had to be done, and thus I wearily set an alarm, tried to go to bed early, and failed miserably to get much sleep at all.

I just didn’t understand how anyone could do this everyday without oceans of caffeine^^.Each morning (particularly the dark, cold morns of mid-winter), I would fall gracelessly from my bed, eyes heavy and mind slurred, and topple into the bathroom, squinting against the sudden light. My movements were sloth like at best. At 6:40, I would clamber out into the morning, usually finally roused from utter dreariness by the snap of chill air. On route there would be dog walkers whistling merrily, joggers, and one particularly perky elderly gentlemen who was always on his way back^^^ from collecting the daily paper. They all appeared so alive, while I sometimes convinced myself I was wondering the world as a ghostly presence.

Nowadays, though, I too have become an ‘early riser’. By that I mean, not only do I wake at a certain time everyday (5:30am^*), but can now do so without scorn or painful eyes. In fact, in these last few months I have actually enjoyed doing so. Yes, actually, ‘enjoy’. Really.

Getting up early means you can get a lot done before anyone else is even awake, and that is a feeling of accomplishment which cannot be beaten. Knowing that the world is snoozing while you are sending off emails and ticking off items on a long to-do list is fantastic. I can now complete a morning routine (including work-out and shower) with time to spare, and on really good days, most of my to-do list is checked off before breakfast. Hard to believe, I know, but there we have it. At some point, almost without notice, I made amends with mornings. It leaves me both gleeful and, at odd times, resentful of myself, much like I was of those joyful joggers of the frigid winters.

I always considered myself a dusk person rather than a dawn, but it seems the two are not mutually exclusive. Now I believe they are two times of day particular for certain activities and feelings. Dusk is for relaxing, creativity and contemplation, moving into the peaceful, solitary hours of early night, where my heart has always found tranquility. Mornings, I see now, also have a purpose. Dawn is for energy and productiveness, and can offer just as many peaceful hours, but for reasons of gathering ones thoughts for the day, and setting the day in the right direction. Perhaps maturity has allowed me to see the value in a time of day I usually overlooked.

Even on weekends, I find actually waking early has a certain glee to it. Take for instance my stay on the aforementioned heavenly sofa-bed. My friend and I had the customary late night as is our way, and yet I still woke refreshed and raring, alarm free at about 6:30. I yawned languidly, read my book, dressed, replaced the sofa-bed and sat on the swivel chair to read further until my hostess with the mostess appeared to prepare breakfast. You see what I mean? Morning hours are great for more time doing pleasant things, like reading and thinking and stretching. Still not sure on the jogging though. It never seems a great time to just go jog.

Yet, who knows? Perhaps given enough time, I’ll suddenly get the urge to don a pair of expensive running shoes*^, and haul ass around the neighborhood avoiding pedestrians and dogs in minus-degree temperatures. For now, I’ll just enjoy the experiences of being an early riser.


*I know many people use that simile, but this really is. Honestly. I think I even had a dream while residing in its painful clutches that I was being harassed by people trying to extract information from me for King Henry VIII. And I wanted to give them information. I just didn’t know what it was.

**Which is something I imagine any god would do, you understand. Perhaps there is even a DDR competition and charades. I don’t claim to know the master workings of the Universe, but it’s fun to contemplate the matter. Perhaps, when this mortal coil of mine has been shrugged away, I will see the behind the scenes footage, though I doubt it will be anywhere as ordinary and human as I have described. I hope not anyway.

***And at no point has it been cursed to create a thousand years of torment by a disgruntled witch, which may be the case with my sister’s sofa-bed.

^The term ‘early riser’ always sounded too cutesy-wootsy to me, like something from a children’s cartoon. ‘Down in the land of the early risers’. Yet, I lack a better term, so there you go.

^^Given I cannot stomach coffee, this was not an option for me. I did more than once consider intravenous caffeine, but I lacked the street smarts to know where to find such things, if such things exist.

^^^You undertstand, back? As in, he had already risen from bed, walked to collect his paper and was now returning to his abode. Meaning either he was up at least half an hour before I was or he was incredibly quick. Or, a less realistic notion, he invented a formula which stopped the body’s need for sleep, and thus no longer went to bed at all. Those are the only possible reasons. What do you mean I haven’t considered other factors? Be gone with you, Sir.

^*In the last few weeks this has become 5:00am.

*^Have you seen the price of some of these trainers? It’s ridiculous. I saw one pair once with ‘bounce technology’. What the heck is ‘bounce technology’? A mattress and a trampoline should have ‘bounce technology’, not a pair of shoes. Not that it mattered because these shoes cost about as much as either of those things. They were over £100. Unless they possessed the ability to defy gravity, and came with an installed cup-holder, I’m not interested. If you need that much bounce, dear jogger, jog on a trampoline.

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