Day 4 of My Wakeup-Early Experiment, or Helping the Magic Along

Day 4 of My Wakeup-Early Experiment, or Helping the Magic Along


Note to readers: In case you haven’t read the last few posts, I’m running an experiment in which I get up at 5(ish) every weekday until the end of February.

I’m here.

I was exhausted all day yesterday and dragging ass until around 3:30 when I finally just gave in and and took a 30-minute nap.

I went to bed last night a little after 10. As I was setting my alarm I thought, “Do I really need to do this again? I’m so tired. This week was so hard … I just need another hour of sleep. No. No, I said I was going to do this through the end of February. How many days is that? I cannot quit when February hasn’t even started yet. OK, I should set the alarm for 5:10 so I have a shot at at least 7 full hours. But I still have to brush my teeth before bed and I’d like to read a few pages … so it won’t be 7 full hours. Maybe I should set it for 5:30? But 5:30 isn’t enough time. That barely gives me enough time to grab a coffee and open my computer …”

I finally settled on 5:20.

And then, just for fun, I ran through my self doubts. Because why not? “Why are you even doing this anyway? To get up and type a shitty blog post that probably won’t even have a subject? Guess what? No one cares. NO ONE CARES. You think you’re doing some grand experiment here. What are you even going to write about? You’re not going to have time to get into anything meaty and you probably won’t be awake enough anyway. So you’re just going to sit there and write about being awake and writing? That sounds super interesting. Slow caps for you, you fucking artist.”

I was tired, but I argued back. If I had said this out loud it would’ve sounded very whiny and I would’ve started with one of those wimpy, limp-armed smacks that a younger sibling gives to an older sibling who is trying to grab the remote out of their hands. “Stop it. Leave me alone. I don’t know why I’m doing this, but I’m doing it.”

Then I got a little gumption … you can’t just take the remote from me because you’re bigger! “This feels important and I don’t know why. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Maybe nothing. But, actually, that’s bullshit. ‘Nothing’ is an impossible outcome when I’m adding an entire hour to my day … unless I spend that hour surfing the news, which I WILL NOT LET MYSELF DO. So something. I think it’s going to be hard at first but I just need to push through and then … I think it’s going to be magic. Unexpected benefits will appear. Maybe my teeth will get whiter or my hair will get shinier or I’ll suddenly realize that dammit, I really fucking LOVE kale. Or maybe it will be like with the meditation and exercise … I’ll just start feeling better. And typing crap in the morning will get the wheels turning. And I’ll find magical pockets of time to write more during the day. And ideas will flow and I’ll get into that writer-brain mode I’ve been in so many times where I just have to write all the time because I can’t help it … that’s what I hope will happen. But my job right now is not to think about why I’m doing this and what I’m going to get out of it. My job is just to do it and not ask questions.”

And then this morning I woke up at 5:10, all on my own, 10 minutes before the alarm. My brain was AWAKE. Like, I woke up and my brain was smiling at me in the dark, going “Hey? Ready to do this?”

So here I am. Here WE are.

And I have two other thoughts on all of this.

The first is a question. Why did I wake up without the alarm? A fluke? A natural response to my body figuring out the pattern? Did I make myself wake up on my own, super-alert because of the pep talk I gave myself last night? Am I skewing my results and forcing the outcome I want?

The answer is that it doesn’t matter. It could be all of those things. And in terms of skewing my results … great. And probably. Don’t we all do that all the time? We tell ourselves stories about how things are going to be … and then they turn out that way? So if I’m arguing to myself about why something will be great or will be terrible, I’m helping to push that into existence.

And the second thought is about magic. You guys, I am so down with magic. I think it exists if we acknowledge it and we decide to participate when it shows up. I’m not talking about casting spells or filling cauldrons full of sweaty gym socks. I mean looking for those subtle cues that we’re going in the right direction. Looking for those little pockets of joy that show up and then, when we find them, going “Hey! I feel joyful right now!” and sort of hanging out in that pocket for a bit. That, I believe, allows the joy bubble to get a little bigger.

An awesome way to pop the joy bubble, by the way, is to follow up “Hey! I feel joyful right now!” with something like “But it’s too bad because now I have to go back to work and I wish I could have this all the time but I can’t because my life sucks and other people get to have this and why not me and [insert the rest of your pathetic self-victimization narrative here].”

Finding a joy bubble is like catching a wave when you’re body surfing. For just a few seconds, you’re knocked out of your gravity-centered existence. You’re moving, but you’re not doing anything, it’s just taking you. And when you’re riding the wave, you’re all-in. You’re not thinking about your job or unlaoding the dishwasher … and when you’re done, you get up thinking “That was awesome.”

And speaking of the dishwasher … my day has begun. Have a good one, readers.

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