Wake up and run
Alarm clock, hand slapping the buzzer. Rolling out of bed with a groan. Staggering to the bathroom. Staring into the mirror, then teeth, face, shuffling to the kitchen to switch on Mr. Coffee, then back to the bedroom. Blinking at the time, yes, a run is possible, no, a run will have to wait.
Shower, dress, kids, carpool, office. Running, running, running.
Is that how your morning goes?
Over the years, my morning routines have been rigid and fluid and rigid again, changing dramatically at those life stages you would expect: college, the working world, living abroad, juggling babies and the office, kids and the office, kids then teens, and work from home. Sharing life with a partner shifts routines; tasks may be spread, though there are more to shoulder. There are also more pleasures.
My neighbor’s morning routine
From my bed, I can see the rickety porch of a neighbor’s house, beyond my yard, beyond the tangle of downed trees and a rusty fence covered in vine, beyond the hardwoods that have shed their leaves for the season. I wake early, and I begin to write before coffee, before moving from my bed, before heading to the bathroom. But I glance out my window as I do, assessing and adjusting timetables, simply from the look of the sky.
Often, I see my neighbor, a man in his 40s, who takes five minutes on his porch in his bathrobe. He never sits. He stands, stares off, then goes inside. Even on the most blustery and bitter mornings.
I take in the day through the window panes; he breathes it into his lungs, standing.
Do you wake and immediately run the to-do list through your head? Do you take time over coffee, writing in a journal, or in exercise, granting yourself something before feeding the family or plunging into the commotion of the day?
Do you feel as though the day never anchors itself in a way that energizes rather than wearing you out, and seeming out of control?
- How did you start your day today?
- What does it say about your life at this stage?
I wake and write, tapping on my keyboard, barely exiting from dream. I wake and fill the coffee filter, words tumbling noisily in my head and wanting their way. Demanding it. I give them steam – good or bad. I feel starved when I cannot.
Beyond first words, enough to lubricate my tongue and my spark my consciousness, it is all about my son. The start of his day which is still the core of my own, and my best parenting self which may require one hour of the morning or its entirety. And then I write again, still open enough to do so because my waking began with words.
Shifting routines (morning sex)
When there is a man in my heart and in my bed, I wake to a different sort of routine, to an anchor that is anything but mechanical. This is the sweetest awakening, one of morning sex or morning lovemaking. I do not have this pleasure often, but when I do, I savor. Even the writing will wait. Living must come first, for words to come naturally.
Healthy routines for adults
We say that routines are good for children, yet we forget that routines are good for people. With so much on our plates, the crazy requirements of full if chaotic lives, can we make room for healthier adult routines? A few extra minutes for the self or the couple, so we may benefit from the structure, security, and satisfactions that heighten well-being?
Can our rituals of sameness be supple enough for necessary variation?
This morning, my neighbor was on his porch as usual. It was 22 degrees. This morning, he wore a hat.
© D A Wolf