It is annoying to people I’ve lived with who are owls, but for all my life I have been a lark – that is, a person who wakes early and with eagerness, mind and body at full function ready to take on the day.
From childhood our waking is controlled, at first by parents urging us to get ready for school and later, by alarm clocks to meet the time requirements of jobs and careers.
Five days a week, for sixty years, except for the bliss of weekends, our sleep is abruptly, harshly and rudely interrupted each morning by bell or buzzer leaving us with confused fragments of incomplete dreams drifting away before our conscious minds can grasp them.
Lark or owl, we are captive to the relentless clock that orders our lives, although it is undoubtedly easier for larks than for owls.
And then retirement happens. There is no longer the necessity to arrive at a specific time somewhere that has been as close as a walk of a few blocks or a commute of two hours. There is no more morning rush, no schedule to keep, no gulping coffee nor the frustration of misplaced keys as the clock ticks relentlessly. No one requires our presence.
What a pleasure it is to awaken in one’s own time, as nature intended, becoming aware again that a new day has arrived, but doing it gradually and gently.
These cold winter mornings are especially delicious. The rooms are kept at 60 degrees Fahrenheit overnight so that even a lark like me wants to snuggle more deeply into the covers for awhile, drifting in that hanging space between sleep and consciousness where the direction of dreams can be controlled, if you do it gently enough. After all those decades of interruption, the final act of the reverie can be allowed to play itself out now.
But once “The End” is put to the dream, I am not capable of staying in bed. The day beckons – “let’s go, let’s go, no telling what might happen today.” And it starts with one of the best small pleasures of life – a hot shower – which without the pressure of school or job and commute, no longer needs to be rushed as it was for 60 years.
The old bones creak a bit these days and leg muscles take a few moments to get the juice flowing, so I don’t leap out of bed as easily as I once did. But the urge to get going is just as irresistible except that waking slowly without the shock of that alarm is one of the great, good benefits of getting old.