It’s almost impossible to describe what it means to be an early bird to someone who’s used to being a night owl, but I’m going to attempt it. I have written and written about how to become a morning person, but haven’t lingered long enough on what makes it so pleasurable, what makes it worth the process of adapting your life.
A good deal of it is immeasurable.
When you wake with the sun in the spring and summer, or just before it in the autumn and winter, there is this expectant hush over the entire city. You can look out your windows and see that every other window is still dark, but on the horizon, the light is starting to take hold. It’s impossible not to think of possibility in those hours, if you take the time to sit with it.
Of course in the evening, as the city starts to darken, there is that feeling, too—but you wait so much longer for it. Somewhere past midnight the quiet comes, and even then, you must turn on your own lights to create enough space to work and be in; the night outside leans in on you, and it’s far easier to think of other things: how many things were left undone? How much of the to-do list still lays before you? How can you justify a cup of coffee in the night?
In the evening, so much lies behind you. But in the mornings, so much lies ahead. There are fewer guilts in the morning because the whole day is ahead in which to achieve your goals. There is the insistent metaphor of new beginnings; the sunrise has been made into clichés in books and movies, but when you experience it, you can’t help but think of hope.
In the morning, there is a sense of purpose winding up. If you go to the gym, you see men coming in wearing t-shirts and coming out in suits. If you sit down to write, you hear first a trickle of traffic, then a steady flow. If you take time to read, to watch TV, to play a game, to knit a scarf, you feel the day growing around you. The birds begin to chirrup. The church bells toll for longer. Everything moves slowly into light.
It sounds poetic because it is. You can’t escape the optimism of a new day.
Instead of fighting against tiredness, you fill with energy. Instead of looking out into emptying streets, they start to fill. Instead of pushing back against the winding down of the day, you begin to be invigorated by the fact that it’s winding up.
Then, when it comes time to put away your work, to leave the gym, to set aside your personal time, you can walk out into the morning knowing that you’ve already embraced it. You have a sense of purpose and fulfillment that most people won’t have reached. As a morning person, you stop pushing against the flow and begin to go with it, to become an enthusiastic part of it.
And isn’t that worth enjoying?