For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an early riser. When I was a kid, I was the first member of the family who was up in the morning. In college, I was never able to sleep in like my friends could. And once I started working, I established the “early to bed, early to rise” regimen that would have made Poor Richard proud.
But here’s the thing: as time passed, I found myself waking up, and going to bed, earlier and earlier. When it got to the point this summer where I was opening my eyes at 4:30 a.m., with no hope of going back to sleep, I knew I needed to do something. Those hours might be ideal for a farmer, but they seemed a bit out of whack for me.
So lately I’ve been trying to change from an early bird to more of a night owl. It isn’t easy. Working to modify ingrained daily habits that have prevailed for decades is a challenge. The effort for now focuses on the back end of the day, where I’ve been striving to stay up later than usual. This means no night-time reading, which will always cause me to doze off, and trying to find some really riveting TV shows — like Peaky Blinders, which Kish and I have just started watching. Through concentrated effort, I’ve actually been up past 10 p.m. every day this week. This may not seem like anything to those people who regularly catch the late show on TV, but it’s a significant step for me.
And this morning, I slept in until 5:30. 5:30! I feel like a slugabed, but progress is being made.
I’ve always been an early bird. I wake up at the crack of dawn as a matter of course. On most Saturdays and Sundays, I try to roll over and get a bit more sleep. This morning, though, I saw the early morning sunlight lancing through the slats on our blinds and had the opposite impulse — so I got up and got ready to head out for a walk.
When you’re out for an early morning stroll, there’s no need to primp. You’re not going to run into anyone at 6 a.m. A ratty t-shirt and old shorts will do just fine, and don’t worry about totally eliminating that bed head, either. Drag your fingers through your sorry excuse for a coiff, try to pat down the more egregious hair eruptions, and get going.
One nice thing about the early morning hours: during the high summer days in the Midwest, when the daytime temperatures can reach the 90s as has been the case recently, they’re one of the few reasonable walking times of the day. This morning there was still a delightful whiff of lingering nighttime coolness in the air, not yet burned to a crisp by the blazing sun and throttled by the steamy humidity that will be coming soon enough. Simply breathing was a pleasure, and a few deep gulps of the fresh air tasted wonderful.
As I took my lap around Schiller Park, the robins were out on the lawns, hopping and hunting for worms with their sharp-eyed, birdlike intensity. The duck pond was swarming with ducks and geese, and some of the adventurous fowl mysteriously decided to march across the street, apparently in search of food. For the birds among us, it was time to be out and about, even if most of the sleepy human world was still fast asleep.
This morning, it felt good to be one of the early birds.