I have an ambivalent relationship with dawn. For most of my life, I have avoided it, I have been one who smacks the alarm clock and sleeps in. Partly I justified that by my work habits, for I often found that my most productive time of the day began around 4 pm, and so I would stay up well past midnight, stretching that part of my day until my eyes could no longer stand it. To see dawn, then, was to have gone to bed earlier, was to have cut short my writing time, was to have got less done.
Was, was, was.
In the last several years, I have increasingly become a morning person. I have found, for example, that I very much enjoy waking up and knowing that I still have several hours before I have to be anywhere, or do anything, that the morning can be a quiet space of my own time with no demands upon me. I have found, also, that I can read far more and far faster immediately after I wake up, so that a paper that would take an hour to read at 4 pm would be only ten or twenty minutes at 8 am. Even my writing is better, for in that liminal space just before full alertness, ideas float freely in my mind.
But these are all simple practicalities. They are almost rationalizations of my mornings. I’m suspicious of rationalizations in general, from anyone, and especially from myself. There’s something more at stake than the practical, for at heart human beings are not practical creatures. We are impetuous, instinctual, emotional, and contradictory at heart. Practicality? It is like rationality and reason: in the little things we exude it, but in the deeper motivations of our lives, we make of it an indifferent guide.
To sleep in is a luxury of childhood. It is the act of someone who sees the future as vast, so that the idea of rolling back over and sleeping a little more does not seem like a wasteful act. Somewhere along the way, between childhood and now, I have lost that ability. I can no longer look forward to life and see a great unpainted sheet of paper. I’m in the thick of it. My hands are covered in paint.
Dawn. Watercolor on birch plywood board, approximately 6 in x 6 in, 2016