The day I got fired, I was lying in bed waiting to find out if I was COVID positive.
The symptoms had started less than 48 hours earlier.
The symptoms of the illness, I mean. Symptoms for my termination began long before the call from my manager. I was too naive to see them. I swallowed the placebo bulletins from the corporate office. I hoped somebody else could make it all okay.
They couldn’t. They said “goodbye.”
That day, I had gotten up at 5 A.M.
The following day, I got up at 5 A.M.
The day after that, I got up at 5 A.M.
The day after that, I got up at 5 A.M.
The previous 90 days, I had gotten up at 5 A.M.
My morning isn’t tied to my work. I love getting up at 5 each day because for me, early rising has nothing to do with advancing my career. You won’t find anything in the words below about “crushing it” or “getting ahead.” It’s possible that those things may happen anyway. After all, before I was fired, I’d been awarded by the company for my high performance. They even sent me to Paris for three months of work.
But when someone else has control of your life, they can snuff out whatever they want.
Which brings me back to why mornings are so important.
Much of your life is lived without agency. That’s a fancy way of saying “your time isn’t your own.” You work for a boss or customers. You live for a spouse or children. You go out with friends who need to see you.
Environment, genetics, and culture largely dictate the rhythms and results of your life.
You can set the alarm. You can get up. It’s a tiny, insignificant action… other than to show yourself how to follow a command you set, as opposed to waiting for the marching orders for someone else.
This is not a common phrase in 2020 because nobody wants to talk about anything that doesn’t have a dollar sign on it.
So let’s use one.
$12,000,000,000,000 (12 trillion) of domestic work is unaccounted-for GDP. That means it isn’t discussed in boardroom meetings. Sadly, it is also rarely discussed in the home. Such work is assumed to be magically done without thanks or gratitude.
Domestic attention is probably even more valuable than that. When you look at clutter, your brain is drained of cognitive resources and focus (read: the two work attributes you need most). Why risk it?
I get up and make Kate’s lunch, then make the bed, then put away all the dishes, then walk the dog, then start laundry.
Boring? Yes. Worthy? Yes.
Worth taking off my wife’s plate so we can actually talk instead of fighting over whose turn it is to take out the trash?
There are nations in our world who fall asleep hearing gunfire and wake up listening to the sounds of bombs in the distance. They are never not at war. It is a part of their identity, of their existence.
When your whole life is war, all you know is war. This is exhausting.
When your whole life is work, all you know is work. This is also exhausting (though a very different kind of exhausting).
What used to happen in my day was this:
- I got up.
- I got ready for work.
- I drove to work.
- I worked.
- I drove from work.
- I talked to Kate about work.
- I went to bed early to be ready for work.
Honestly, you could get up in the morning, sit on the sofa, and suck your thumb for an hour to get benefits from morning time. It is useful to know that other things exist in the world (like original thoughts) besides work.
A wider perspective means you can see more.
Realize You Can Be Alive Without Eating
Whenever intermittent fasting started trending I was confused. It sounded a lot like the whole key to this diet was literally just not eating for certain times.
Oh well. I’m all for whatever name reminds you that up until 100 or so years ago, your ancestors probably went days or weeks without eating, and every scrap was a labor. Eating wasn’t something they did to fill the time.
Why not use the morning for your body to digest something else?
Thoughts! What a wonderful quirk of the human mind.
Everything that has ever been invented, written, painted, built, or otherwise constructed began with a thought. You were led to this article by a thought, and you’re still reading now because words make you have more thoughts. Isn’t that incredible?
You know the expression “I can’t hear myself think?” This is a real phenomenon for people “on the grind.” They get tunnel vision, which limits solutions.
By the way, that word – grind.
Do you know what a literal “grind” sounds and feels and looks like?
Awful, that’s what.
Yesterday I slept from 1:30 P.M. to 3:00 P.M.
I was tired.
It didn’t matter, I’d already done most of what I needed to do for the day.
“Didn’t you say you got fired?”
Yes. Not for naps.
But when I got my raises – I was taking naps. When I flew to Paris – I was taking naps. When I graduated with honors – I was taking naps.
Keep in mind that while bosses allow for a 60-minute lunch so you can get back to the hustle, whole cultures are snoozing for the better part of the afternoon.
Naps are fabulous and beneficial. Only if you can take one without stress, though.
I do not have children, but when I babysat my 4-year-old nephew for a few hours, it felt as if a new growth had appeared on my leg.
Life is full of hangers-on. Some are sweet-cheeked miscreants (like my Colin), and others are fang-free energy vampires.
At times, you need the space to be alone.
What do you do when you’re alone? The answer is – whatever you want. Dream. Think. Actually taste the coffee you normally pour down your throat to stay awake.
I often use my alone time to create because creativity is my only true escape from the world.
I don’t know if you have an escape.
But I bet you can find one in your morning solitude.