I’ve been a morning person for as long as I can remember. When I was very young — the grammar school days where I enjoyed school and had friends — I couldn’t wait to get out of bed to get my day started. And no matter what, I was always up early on weekends, because that’s when the best cartoons (i.e. Looney Tunes) were on.
This trend continued as I got older. Though by the days of middle and high school, I had swapped out being up early because I liked school (which I heartily did not) to being up early because that was the best time of day to either (1) do homework, or (2) play video games. I remember regularly waking up at five in the morning nearly every day in order to do one of those two things. The house was so wonderfully dark and especially quiet.
Granted, being up so early did have its downsides. That mostly meant I missed out on evening socials with friends (HA!). Though it actually meant that I missed out on most of the pop culture in which my school acquaintances were involved. I remember lots of talk of Seinfeld and David Letterman. They were on well past my self-imposed 9pm bedtime.
But I wouldn’t have traded my pre-sunrise wake-up call for anything back then. That hour or two before everyone awoke gave me the time I needed to simply be myself. It’s the time when I discovered the joy of solitude, of being comfortably alone.
One might think that I’d have had to get over this morning silliness once college arrived. But…I didn’t. Though I did get very good at learning how to function on just a few hours of sleep. Yes, my nights got later, and I guess my mornings did to, as I swapped out a 5am alarm for one at 7am. Still quite early according to most of my peers. But the mornings were just the best time to get stuff done, like laundry and the ever-present mountain of homework. Plus, n-o-b-o-d-y on my campus was ever in the college’s library before 9am, so that was the place for me. Almost daily, I was out of my dorm/apartment by 7:30am, and I spent a good hour or so in the library before my first class. And no matter what, I always did better in my morning classes than I did in my afternoon ones. By 3pm, I was usually spent.
But because college was college, and late nights were often required for any number of things, that’s when I re-learned the joy of napping. I can’t say that I was a frequently napper, but when time allowed, I was not above heading back to my room at the end of an afternoon in order to take a quick snooze before dinner. Some days, that nap was the only thing that helped me get through a late night and not feel like utter shit the next day. (And if I couldn’t get back to my room for any reason, you best believe that a quiet cubby in the library doubled well as a space to rest.)
I guess that after college, I was ready to switch up my routine. And by “switch up” I mean “flip upside-down,” because I ended up at a job where I worked afternoons and nights. I switched out my early alarms for ones that went off at 10, 11, or noon, if I could manage even that. I’d rather not count the number of days that I actually went to bed at the time I used to wake up. Those days were quite enjoyable, without a doubt, but I’m glad they are behind me.
The time eventually came when I needed to settle down into a regular, ol’ 9-5 job. I found one. One that I liked and continue to like, and one that gave me my time back…for a little while, at least. For a number of years, I rediscovered the joy I felt in waking up before the rest of the world. In taking a little time to relax before having to put on my game face. I found time to write, to read, to exercise, and to meditate. It made me very content.
In the recent past, my job (and my life in general) has become more taxing, more expansive, more exhausting, and through it all, more fulfilling. I continue to wake up early every day that I can manage it — some days, I just can’t. But on the days when I do (that goes for weekdays and weekends), when I’m early enough to do yoga, draft a blog post, sit quietly with my purring cat on the the soft, comfy rug in the den, and enjoy a few moments of peace, the world just works. Those day remain the best days, even when they end as complete disasters. I know that the next day I have 5 A.M. That’s my time.