I was a pretty normal teenager in that I often stayed up late on the internet. I didn’t “go out” a lot, because that was never my thing, but there was a distinct range of years right around when I started college, where I defied my circadian rhythm. Often playing Halo. Or Burnout.
Back then I could bounce back from only five or six hours of sleep much better than I can now, even though I’ve never been a coffee drinker.
Just a few years later, I was working a job where I had to leave for the bus at about 7:20 a.m. Since my job was hectic and I was usually starving well before lunch, I tried to always eat some kind of breakfast before work. But I was never hungry right after waking up, it usually took two to three hours for me to get hungry.
So, I would get up at 4:30 a.m., and half the time I’d be able to eat something before I left. Of course, when you have three hours to kill before leaving for work, you need something to do with that time.
I started finding ways to make use of that early morning jump start. I would produce music. I would write lyrics or read up on stuff. I would do graphic design or edit photos.
I do something similar now — I go to the gym (usually three times a week), but because it’s a complete zoo after typical business hours, I go before work when it’s practically empty. The best you can do after 5 p.m. is lay claim to one machine and pretty much only use that machine the whole time you’re there. The gym opens at 5:30 a.m. The (weekday) mornings I go, I get up at 4:50 a.m. On the weekend it opens at 7 so I “sleep in” until 6 or 6:30. On the mornings I don’t go to the gym, I usually try to do some writing, or catch up on email or other things.
Luckily for me, I’m not a huge social butterfly.
The one thing I have always loved about the early morning is the feeling that you are the only one, that you can slow down or even stop completely — just stand still — and take your time to look around, to breathe, to take everything in. Vehicle traffic is light or non-existent. There is almost no one out “in public” before sunrise other than joggers or sometimes dog walkers, and they usually just give you a nod of approval as if to say “nice morning, huh?”
It’s quiet, it’s still, it’s calm. There are no pressing deadlines, and best of all, you’re fresh, you’re at the peak of your energy for the day (at least I am). If you’ve already eaten breakfast, all the better.
It’s also pretty nice to watch the sun rise, when it’s not interfering with your attempts to actually be sleeping. It’s like greeting it at the horizon and saying “hello old friend, how are you today?”
There tends to not be any leftover party people stumbling home, no traffic screeching or honking, perhaps just the friendly clang of a streetcar going by.
And since most people sleep later than I do, with this lack of noise and distraction, I can concentrate — can focus — on getting things done (or at least getting started). In the afternoon the world is just too busy, too loud, too crowded. People are impatient to get home, a lot of people forget their manners. But at dawn, it’s calm, still, wide open for me to enjoy, and people are usually still half asleep. It’s hard to be rude when you’re half asleep.
Mornings are not as fun in the winter, but in the summer they can be gorgeous. It’s warm, possibly just the slightest bit humid out, but the heat is not yet stifling or oppressive. You can enjoy some sun and light before it feels like it’s trying to kill you. Fall is a bit disappointing because each day that pleasantness slips away, bit by bit, testing the limits and duration of your short-sleeved comfort. Spring is the reverse, each day is a case for optimism that maybe yesterday was the last cruelly chilly day you’ll have to face of the winter passed.
And of course, if you are fortunate to be in a happy co-habitation with a romantic partner at that time, mornings are wonderful because you get to watch your love in their most peaceful, relaxed state. You can quietly sneak out to do something nice for them (like make breakfast, or clean up), and then enjoy them waking up to the day in a nice way.
Being a morning person means getting to experience each day first, and arguably best. As long as I’m not tired, it is something I almost always look forward to.
So, good morning to you all — even if it’s night time when you read this. It’s morning somewhere!
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Aside from writing on Medium, I also do several other things including: an interview podcast called Noise in my Head, a curation blog called Curiosity Crossroads, instrumental music and photography both available under creative commons, promoting Polymathism, and my first ebook “Why Can’t I Stop Thinking So Much?”