Emily Bronte reminded us that “a person who has not done one half his day’s work by ten o’clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.” When I thought of that wise observation about 4:00 a.m. this morning I was more in a mood to ruminate than to face anything more strenuous on another hot July day.
Rumination led me to ponder one of the subtle and unsung joys of aging, the fact that, for the many older folks, liberated from the rigors of the workplace, a short night’s sleep offers a quick dip into a mental idea factory and a chance to draft a plan for what the new day promises. For these early risers the work of the day is a challenge, better conquered by mid-morning as Bronte suggests. Visions of projects and possibilities literally dance through their heads!”
Heraclitus got it right when he observed that “even a soul submerged in sleep is hard at work and helps make something of the world.” (Fragments) A night spent dreaming about ways to “make something of the world” leads to a morning shaped by high energy that trumps ennui any day.
Early risers of an age know that birds waking, a bit of sunshine and the sounds of a city on the move obviate the necessity of pre-dawn interruptions by a rude alarm clock or a blaring radio. Nature itself softens the blow of another day by allowing time to review whacky dreams and get about the fun of formulating a day’s agenda that favors creative thinking and human interaction over drudgery. More waking hours allow for a happy mix of routine and escape.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the fact that most folks cannot see short nights and long days as to luxury to be savored. Those who are in their prime have jobs with insatiable deadlines and irritating co-workers — or they face a day of search for gainful employment in a harsh economy. Been there, done that. It’s those decades of rise and run that make me relish the deliciousness of a soft waking from a night of respite that features the work of physical restoration and mental reflection on wyas “to make something of the world.”.
The truth is, positioning short nights and long days in a positive light is just my persistent struggle to put the best face on aging, to see the rhythm of the day as liberating. And to get at least half of the day’s work done by ten, lest I run the risk of leaving the other half undone.
On really good mornings I start the day with a nod to Christopher Robin’s delightful puzzlement: “Now, how to amuse them to-day?” It sets a tone.