On Early Mornings

With the exception of my teenage years and early college years, I’ve always had a preference for the early morning hours. When I began running (again) when I was first married, my wife and I would get up early to run on treadmills at a fitness center, rather than brave the sub-zero Northwestern Minnesota temperatures. Now, sleeping until 6:30 is a luxury; sleeping until 7 is an un-achievable feat, even if I’ve had a late night. (Part of that inability results from two young children, both of whom are early risers themselves.)

Over the years I’ve used those early-hours to train for marathons, for 10ks, for 5ks; to work on graduate coursework; to read; to work on various writing projects and assignments. Whether inside or outside the house during those dawn and pre-dawn times, I’ve found them to be some of the most fulfilling and productive minutes of my days. And for me as an introvert, those times alone are crucial to my emotional well-being.

Over a month ago after I returned from an academic conference, I decided to write for a half hour before breakfast, before I did anything else. Just roll out of bed at 6, everyone else still asleep, and slip into the home office. In this time span, I’ve established a wonderful writing rhythm, those 30 minutes to myself and my words a jump start to my day, whatever responsibilities await.

My brain is so much sharper at this hour than if I tried to write once my children are both asleep (ideally before 8). At that hour, I have little mental focus, all of it used up during my job as a professor. I’ve tried to write during space from 8-9 p.m., but I’ve found that what I can accomplish in that time, I can accomplish in a half hour in the early morning.

I did take this morning off, it being Thanksgiving, but of the many things for which I am grateful (my family, my friends, my job, my church, my home, etc.) writing and reading are two of the most precious. To be able to communicate and to be able to understand the ideas and stories of others are gifts I do not take for granted. And having done the former (I trust), I will now spend part of this rainy afternoon doing the latter.


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