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Personal Essay: “Early starts”

There is something that can be said about rising early.

Mind you, I have never been one who willingly drags herself out of bed in the wee hours of the morning, especially in the darker and colder winter months when the sun had barely managed to rise into the sky herself before I had to leave the warmth of my home to begin my long trek to work. Yet, in these six or so months when I have been away from work and for the most part away from any other obligation that make it necessary for me to be an early riser I have come to view those hours of the day we can still refer to as “morning” in a slightly different light.

From what I have come to notice it seems to me like people carry themselves in a different manner in the morning’s early light. As I ride my bike to the train station every morning to snatch my own copy of the free newspaper from the racks there I observe the commuters with the same goal in mind as me. I watch their eyes, trained forward and unseeing, not truly taking in the world around them. Their minds are already miles ahead, hours as they ponder the day ahead of them, though their appearances still carry the signs that some part of them have not quite awakened from slumber yet.

As I watch these busy working folks carry on with their day you begin feel a strange kinship with those like you who have nowhere important to be this day, this morning. Those who are just out walking their dog or getting a bit of fresh air, before they retreat back from whence they came. You nod at each other, with something like recognition in your eyes, perhaps exchange hellos, then you continue in your separate directions. This morning stillness is something I have come to treasure of late. I clutch it to my chest so I might remember it later, when the hustle and bustle of the day’s activities begin to wear me down.

I can’t help but think that this stillness, this peace is something you need to open yourself up to see. With your eyes so focused on the hours ahead of you, on the work and other important tasks on your daily agenda you cannot fully appreciate the fact that the world around you is in fact just as sleep addled as you are. Observe it and appreciate this charming phenomenon.

Watch the clear surface of the lake, reflecting the surrounding landscape, the forest blurring into different hues of green as the water drinks up their color, without a ripple to be seen on it. The wind has not yet risen to disturb the pristine water’s surface,  so it still slumbers, with only the occasional fish that lazily nips at some insect just above the water, the fish equivalent of a little breakfast snack.

Watch the birds, some of them still perched in the trees, on the look-out while their brethren have a morning drink from some puddles. They chirp a morning song, as if they are trying out their vocal chords for the long symphonies to come. The earliest risers are among their feathered kin already done with their exercises and now they calmly wander backyards in search of worms that have not yet escaped back into the wet earth.

Watch as the very light itself has a slightly different hue this many hours before noon, watch how it seems airier, brighter, as if the sun herself is still rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, still arranging her hair into some sort of order. The grass is still wet with dew and the flowers have only just begun to unfurl their petals, opening up the buffet for the honeybees and bumblebees stirring from bush and tree. The very air is fresh and new, as the night’s humidity still clings to the air, invisible to us. Soon enough the sun will have awakened fully and with her divine heat she will force the last of those microscopic water molecules into the air, transformed into water vapor.

I have found that even on those hard mornings, the mornings when you wake up afraid and anxious, worried about some future problem or some imagery that haunted your dreams, it does help to just step outside into the morning light. To step outside, take a deep breath and feel the crisp, clean air caress your skin, feel it pinch at your cheeks and then feel the warmth of the sun’s rays, as if she is trying to reassure you that everything will be alright in the end. Then have a short walk around the neighborhood, take in the beauty of nature at this hour, watch with your own eyes as everything around you, from the birds to the bees arise from their own nightly slumber, intent on surviving yet another day.

There is something inspirational in being a witness to that, the witness to that kind of raw uncomplicated urge to survive. Even if your own life might seem hard and complicated there is something soothing about the focused determination of nature’s creations doing what they can to make it through the day that has only just begun.

When you mood is dark, the nights can seem even darker and more depressing, so what better cure for that, what better balm for that wound than to step outside for a bit in the morning and take in the complexity, yet also the simplicity of the world outside your door.

A world where every day is something new, a new opportunity to sing, so eat, to mate and most of all…To live.

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