I was awake when my alarm went off at 6:45 a.m. and I thought to myself, “Why did I think it was a good idea to set an alarm for 6:45?” I didn’t hit the snooze button and try to fall back to sleep, though. Instead, I picked up my phone as I rolled out of bed, turned off the alarm and walked into the kitchen to fix myself a cup of coffee.
As someone who has worked nights my entire adult, with the exception of three painful months of days in 2014 (I don’t know how you people do it), waking up any time before 8 a.m. is a struggle. Years ago, when newspaper deadlines were much later, I wouldn’t get out of work until 12:30 or 1 a.m. most days. And when I got home, I would never go straight to bed, I needed a little time to wind down. It was usually 3 a.m. before I was crawling into bed. On those days, I’d be lucky to be up before 10 a.m.
Deadlines have changed and I’m home much earlier these days. I’m usually out of work between 11-11:30 p.m. and I try to go to bed by 12:30 or 1 a.m. The days of rolling out of bed at 10 a.m. are a thing of the past but I usually don’t get up until between 8 and 8:30. My body and my brain are so accustomed to late nights that early mornings are difficult
So this morning was a bit unusual.
I was challenged to wake up early this morning to watch the sunrise. The only time I ever see the sunrise these days is when I am running a race. The last time I was awake to see the sun come up was Oct. 13, 2019. I was in Grant Park in Chicago, waiting to run the Chicago Marathon.
I turned off the TV, my laptop and the light a little early last night, and set that alarm so I could be up to see the sunrise this morning. I wasn’t willing to wake up early enough to drive to a location to get a brilliant view of the sky and the sun, and there is no clear view of the sunrise or sunset from my apartment, so I bundled up, grabbed a mug of coffee, and went for a walk through my neighborhood.
What I saw was very unusual to a night owl like me. Everyone, or so it seemed, was starting their day as I walked down my street. Cars were running, warming up the interior and melting the frost of the windows. Kids carrying heavy backpacks made their way along the ice sidewalks to the high school and middle school around the corner. The milk man was making a deliver to the store just down the street. I never really saw the sun but the sky was a brilliant mix of purple, orange and gray.
Usually when I leave the house, the sun has come up and the sky is either blue or gray on a cloudy day. My street is usually pretty quiet, most people have already left for work or school. It is even quieter when I get out of work. Cars are parked in driveways and on the street, lights are off in most of the house or apartment buildings. Everyone’s day has been over for hours and they are sleeping in preparation for that early morning alarm.
The world is a different place at 7 in the morning. One I don’t see very often. It was interesting to see and to feel. I respect sleep too much to make this a habit, but I would like to get up to see the sunrise a bit more often, just to get a different look at the world. I’m pretty sure I learned in those three dreadful months that I will never truly be a morning person, but there was something about being up before the sun, seeing the world wake up that was kind of interesting. And hey, my productivity is a lot better when I wake up earlier. Since I was already awake, I sat down to write when I got home from that walk.
I’m grateful I was challenged to get up early this morning and I’m grateful I didn’t turn off that alarm and stay in bed. I may regret it this afternoon when I’m dragging ass tired, but right now I think it was worth it to experience the world in a different way.
Just don’t expect me to make it a habit.