Last night I slept long and well. Eight and a half hours of rest, laced with an interesting dream or two. I awoke to the patter of rain on the bedroom windows and stretched lazily in a winter nest of flannel and down. I marveled at my long sleep and assured myself it was good for my health.
And yet, the sense of luxury that warmed my waking thoughts was quickly chilled by a shadow of guilt. Unbidden, an inventory of concerns scrolled through my mind: Was this long, indulgent sleep a warning sign of winter depression? A dangerous dalliance with sloth? Am I growing lazy, or bored, or irresponsible? In an instant, my mind transformed a luxury into a potential problem.
Give the Early Bird a Break
Now, after two mugs of Irish breakfast tea and a bowl of oatmeal, here I am, awake, alert, and full of words. Isn’t this what I want every day? I’m thinking the problem may not be too much sleep, but too much history. Residual expectations, shaped by the past demands of a buzzing alarm clock still color my response to mornings. I’m pursued by the shadows of personal history that shaped my image of a successful, productive life. It’s an image that holds little tolerance for lolling late in bed.
The pattern started early, with the schedules of schooling, student jobs, newspaper deadlines. Even later, when my work hours were set by personal goals and deadlines, rather than a newspaper job, I maintained a firm schedule of exercise and writing. Nine to noon at the desk, every day.
This winter, without a book project on my desk, I find myself able to flirt with the freedom of natural rhythms. It isn’t as easy as it seems. Old patterns whip me with a backlash of doubt on mornings of late risings or aimless puttering. But today, the whip has roused a feisty spirit. “Loosen up,” it chortles with rebellious glee. “Give me a break, okay? I’m happy, rested, and dancing with the muse. Isn't this what I want from life? If this is sloth, give me more of the same.”
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