In the morning…


“In the morning (we) walk with our whole body; in the evening, only with our legs.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s a new day. What do you rely on to get your mojo moving? Is it a double expresso or wheat grass shot, the sun, a 12 hour pain pill, shrill alarm clock, the morning news, or dogs that need to pee precisely at 6 am? Does morning break for you like the first morning or is good morning an oxymoron? Do you rise and shine or rise and whine?

‘Be strong like me’ my coffee intones. Now that I’m an ‘elder’ (I refuse to use words like ‘old, senior citizen, or retired), each morning I feel young, strong, and filled with, if not optimism, a brightness of being. By noon, I approach the frankness of 50; shortly thereafter, like an undone spell, I become the age I am…

My Irish grandad often said, “top of the morning to you.” To which I would reply, “and top of the rest of the day to yourself’ as he taught me. Though I think he borrowed the words from American made movies about the Irish, the phrase still makes me smile. However, the word ‘wake’ often brings a frown, conveying something jarring (having no choice but to rise) and tragic—via the many Irish wakes and keenings I’ve attended. And is it just coincidence morning and mourning can both convey sadness?

The ancients saluted, toot tooted, and offered sacrifices to the dawn and sol invictus. The sun has been described as a god, demon, and trickster. Ancient Greeks imaged a rising sun pulled by the god Helios’ chariot and seven horses. Native Americans thought the sun was held in a yellow box and raven fetched it to our world. Aussie Aborigines described how the Sun Mother awoke earth’s sleeping spirits. I suspect sunrise is feminine and sunset masculine, although a bold sun peeking through a window sounds more male than female?

Egyptians adopted the sun as a symbol of immortality. Temples, standing stones, and altars were dedicated to solar worship. Symbolically, it’s represented by a circle with rays, an equilateral triangle, and secret codes for light. In Ireland, Brigid ‘the bright one’ was a sun goddess, and reels were danced deisol—in the direction of the sun in her honor.


Namaste in bed today

Productivity leaders swear by rituals as simple as standing still to salute the dawn or making the bed so you’re not tempted to return to it. More realistic folks say they can rise and shine but not at the same time. Former coworkers complained they needed something ‘more than coffee but less than cocaine’ to make them productive. Signs like Namaste in bed today aren’t helpful.

There is a sensuous luxury about sleeping in, regardless of what professional motivators say. An old story goes a Chinese Mandarin was wakened three times every morning simply for the pleasure of being told it wasn’t time to get up yet. Senior citizens joke they read the morning obituaries and if their names aren’t on it—they get up!

A Turkish friend I met on a solo cruise loved her morning coffee to extreme. We had lively talks about the art of Tasseography (reading ‘fal’ via coffee sediment); like the coffee she drank, my friend was strong, unfiltered, and full bodied. We kept in touch via Facebook. Daily she greeted her friends with a witty ditty and picture of a steaming mug. Some mornings her post was so vibrant, an aroma of rich beans, with a dash of cardamom and cinnamon, wafted from my tablet. One morning her post said, ‘a yawn is a silent scream for coffee.’ Another day, ‘humbly, when I woke this am, I had no plans to be awesome, but one sip et voila!’ Occasionally, her post reflected her grumpy side, e.g., “Notice I’m drinking from a glass mug today so everyone can see my tolerance level,” I texted back I was glad I lived in another state. Sadly, she died last year. For months after, my coffee had a bitter taste.

Duels were typically held at dawn; prisoners were shot at dawn and morning, in general, can be unsettling and noisy. Depending on where you wake, you might hear a bugle revelry or workers loading the trash truck; a screech of tires and honk of horns; the melodious warble of a song bird or the shrill cry of a blackbird; the chiming of a grandfather clock or a song alarm you programmed on a cell phone. For upbeat idealists, the song could be, ‘wake me up before you go go,’ daydream believer, or ‘good morning star shine.’ Romantics might play ‘touch me in the morning’ or ‘I woke up in love this morning.’ My morning favorite is the sound of silence, as in silence, not the Simon & Garfunkel song.

People actually write books about what to do when you wake before dawn. Advice includes: be stealthy and don’t wake others; go for a walk and hope you don’t run into a mugger; be productive and clean, exercise, or meditate (yeah right); or my personal favorite help ensure a vampire gets a good days rest.

A new dawn arrived after a night not unlike the one in my poem Preparing to Go (see Ask Emily—a Title is Vital blog). I stand before the window that offers the best view of the woods, and in the distance, can almost make out the Tennessee Lake that connects to other bodies of water until it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. I inhale morning’s first loamy breath and am reborn until later—when early mornings silence dissolves and I feel gravity’s and mortality’s pull. Top of the morning to you all. Get going!  Virtually yours, Jo

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