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Morning magic

October 11th, 2012

Seven o’clock in the morning is a great time for a lot of things. Waking up, smelling the air while it’s still crisp in the summer and ever crisper in the fall, winter and spring cleans the sinuses and clears the brain, filling it with smells of growth or decay, warmth or frigidness. The olfactory benefits seem reason enough to roll out from the shelter of one’s comforter to greet the earliest arrival of the new day.

Despite the greatness of the morning, most find getting up early to be undesirable. Why would one leave the comfort of one’s bed earlier than one must? Being hard-working college students, we all naturally want as much sleep as we can get. Yet, how many times have you slept past 11 a.m. or even 12 p.m. innately feeling incredibly guilty for doing so?

Sleeping is highly necessary for us to function at a high level throughout the day. Not only does it prepare one  for work but it repairs the body and enables it to reap benefits from a day’s tasks. Sleeping late would seem logical if one wants to fully rest his or her body and prepare it to be madly productive for the rest of the day, as there is much to be done. The puzzling bit is that students seem to want to do the vast majority of work in the evening and night, until the wee hours. I must ask, why this is the case? What about working during the day puts such a bad taste in most of our mouths?

When most of us schedule our classes for the upcoming semester, we avoid the dreaded 8 a.m. class. It’s perplexing to come up with a reason why this is the case. Contemplating this fact, one is led to a fairly dreadful conclusion about the apparently rampant pessimism about the happenings of each day, which are several months in the future. It makes sense for one to stay up late, and thus sleep late, if there is an overwhelming amount to do during a day (though I’ve often replied to “The days just aren’t long enough,” with, “There is just too much to do during the day.”). So, by avoiding a scheduled early morning, we are already assuming most days are going to pummel us with more things to do than can be done during daylight hours. That sounds like a fun life.

Humans are naturally diurnal creatures, so it only makes sense that we are evolutionarily capable of doing our best work during the day. This fact was realized by ancient intellectuals thousands of years ago, long before the existence of the work-engulfing society we live in today. The Rigveda is a text created between 3,700 and 3,100 years ago in India. The minds behind this great work highlighted the importance the morning can play in the workings of a person. The text notes, “By getting up early in the morning one also gets more time at his disposal for work as compared to late-risers. Scholars and thinkers get up early in the morning and contemplate.”

Many great thinkers have been early-risers, finding fulfillment and productivity in the early light. Visiting Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello tosses a bucket of the cold water of morning jump-start potential in your face. Seeing TJ’s journals, blueprints, plans, records, thousands of letters, etc. is a shocking experience. How can one man create so much minutely detailed work of quality. Though many things could contribute to this, good old Tom said, “Whether I retire to bed early or late, I rise with the sun.” He claims that in a 50-year period, the sun had never caught him in bed.

Every Monday and Wednesday since this semester began, I’ve awoken before seven to jump start the day with a simple five mile trot. There is a peace of the very early morning unachieved by any other time of day. Being the first to scatter the morning dew on the lawns of University Heights, only being confronted the reverberations of the taps of my own feet off the houses of the city evokes a calm inspiration of the potential of the day. Absorbing the brisk energy from the saccharine morning air as my body cuts through it and its delicate taste and aroma pass my lips prepares me for the day ahead better than any cup of coffee or extra hour of sleep ever has.

Next semester and for the rest of your life, don’t dread the early hours. Awakening with the rest of the Earth’s species puts you in the company of great people of the past and present and allows one to see, smell and feel a world enjoyed by fewer and fewer these days. It is my belief you’ll find greater incitement to take on the day head-first. If it turns out that you find it unfavorable, that leaves all the more morning tranquility for me.