I’ve always been an early riser. As a kid, I took off before dawn to go fishing in nearby creeks and rivers. As an early teen, I took on a paper route that started at 5:30 a.m. During high school and college, I was up for training runs before it got light and made it back before classes that started at 8:00 a.m.
Even in my adult and senior years, I’d get up to birdwatch at ungodly hours. The birding’s best if you arrive when the dawn chorus of migrants begins in spring. Come fall, it is a mysterious pleasure to wander out in the fog-shrouded woods in September light when the pensive chirps of songbird travelers drip down from the trees.
On a daily basis, I get up at 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. these days. In the cold winter months that might mean a trip to the pool for swimming or the two-mile drive to the indoor track. We’ve also got our bikes set up in our workout room at home, along with a treadmill, weights and stretch bands for strength training.
My wife is an even more dedicated early-riser than me. She follows her training program with admirable discipline. Most of it is done before she leaves in the morning for work or travel.
But I have also learned to value and respect my sleep needs. My brain functions much better and generalized anxiety disorder is much better managed when rested. Plus taking time to organize and settle the mind is a healthy thing.
Thus this morning I took it slow. After feeding the cat at 5:00 a.m., I plopped back in bed and thought nice thoughts about my wife, who traveled to Texas yesterday with friends to surprise her sister for her birthday. The Facebook video showed a woman both shocked and thrilled that her friends would show up to celebrate her birthday. Plus she’s still walking around with a boot on her foot after foot surgery to correct a bothersome ankle. So she needed a release.
Soon enough I rose to gather my running stuff and check the weather. But our kitty was busy meowing outside the door to my daughter’s room. They have a plant in the room that Bennie loves to chew. He’s obsessed with that plant. Every morning he sits outside like a feline Romeo calling to his Plant Juliet. It’s cute, but it’s also annoying.
So I scooped up Bennie and brought him back into our bedroom and closed our door. He skritched at the door a bit and then rolled around in love’s misery longing to get back out the door to pine for his love in the hallway.
Finally, he settled down and just sat by the door of our bedroom. I had laid down on the floor behind him to make a video to send to my wife and make her laugh. Being down on the floor felt good for some reason. So I put down the phone and turned my head sideways and just lay there.
It was calming. Grounding. The light shag carpet was enough cushion that my face did not feel crunched on a hard surface. I closed my eyes and listened to my own breathing. During yoga class it’s hard to hear that sometimes with the noise of others breathing and the inevitable whirrrr of some fan our outside noise. My body rose and fell with that breathing. My mind slowed and came close to sleeping, but not quite.
Outside the light was starting to increase but I was facing away from the window and loving the fact that I’d left the crack of dawn behind for once. After probably ten minutes the cat stirred again and meowed. He was my feline yoga instructor calling me back to consciousness.
The run that followed was nothing to brag about. Another 3.4 mile rule around the neighborhood across the way. I did vary the route a bit by taking the long decline down Tanner Road to enter the subdivision from the south side. Ran around the muskrat lakes and headed home. It was darned cold with a wind out of the northwest. My planned five miler dropped to three, and I did not care. I can do what I want, be calm about it, and say screw the crack of dawn when the moment’s right.