My hatred of mornings dates back just about as far as I can remember. Even as a small child, dragging my little body out from under the covers was tantamount to torture. BTW - for those of you who are parents... if your child has trouble getting out of bed in the mornings, tearing off the covers and throwing ice down their pajamas is probably not the best method for waking them... just sayin'...
At any rate... it seemed that throughout my childhood I was always dogged by the morning demons...
My parents divorced when I was quite young and my mother went back to work full time when I was in the first grade. Aside from all the other implications, this meant that summer vacations for me were not a time for relaxing and sleeping in... oh no. My brother and I had to be carted off to summer day camp... which, of course, meant that we had to get up an hour earlier during summer vacation than during the school year. I HATED summer vacation.
When I got older, one of my neighborhood buddies and I were always full of "get rich quick" schemes. One of these was the infamous paper route. It seemed like such a good idea. At the time the Denver Post was an evening paper, so it was a nice, fun little after school job riding my bike around delivering papers.
Of course, within months of my getting the paper route, the Post switched to being a morning paper. AAAARRRRGGGGHHH!
Sooo... as I got older I decided that there had to be a better way... so in my infinite teenage wisdom I decided to take a fast food job working for Jack-in-the-Box.
Despite the grease and the disgusting food, things were OK until.... Apparently I did such a good job impressing my supervisor that she decided I was the only one capable of working the "one worker" shifts... which mainly occurred at... get this 4:00 in the friggin morning!
AAAARRRRRGGGHHHH! But did I quit, noooo... still too caught up in being a good little achiever for that. So once again I suffered through.
OK... I fear this post is degenerating into a bitch session about my sleep deprived youth, which may be satisfying, but doesn't really get my point across...
So here's the deal. Aside from the fact that being tired all the time really sucks, I believe that forcing your body to awaken before it's ready, really does us all a profound disservice. It's not just that most Americans don't get nearly as much sleep as they should... which leads to untold health problems, it's that using an alarm clock teaches you to override one of your body's most basic signals.
We live in a culture that teaches us that if you don't pop out of bed first thing every morning, you are lazy. What is the message here? Seems to me that any way you slice it, the message ends up being: if you honor your body's needs, you are a slacker.
And truly, alarm clocks are only the tip of the anti-human iceberg in this culture. I mean really... we are systematically taught to deny, control, ignore, or otherwise override pretty much everything that our bodies are telling us.
Just think about it for a minute... We routinely teach our children that they're not supposed to express their emotions. You're not supposed to cry, especially if you're male, and you're not supposed to get angry, especially if you're female, and don't EVEN get me started about all of the normal sexual feelings that we're all not supposed to have.
We're assaulted from day one by artificial flavorings which override our taste buds' natural signals about what is and isn't good to eat.
We spend the vast majority of our lives chained to desks of one variety or another, and children are routinely scolded for not sitting still.
The media has us all convinced that danger lurks at every turn, so most kids aren't even allowed the simple pleasures of playing outside by themselves, or walking to school anymore. I mean, how crazy does a culture have to be for it to require a national campaign in order to get our children to go outside and play for an hour every day?
Is it any wonder that we have issues with exercise in this country when all of the natural movement has been systematically disciplined out of us?
And then there are the time issues. The schedule of the modern American is nothing less than dizzying. Seriously, most people live their lives rushing from one commitment to another, constantly being assaulted by beeping little devices of one sort or another. Is it any wonder that we can't listen to our own bodies? How on earth can our natural signals ever hope to make it through the background noise that constantly surrounds us?
So, you might ask... what is the problem with all of this? I mean is it really so terrible that we as a culture have decided that we know better than our bodies... what's the big deal?
The thing is... our bodies' signals aren't just random annoying things put there to make our lives inconvenient, they serve a purpose. They keep us healthy, they keep us safe, the allow us to distinguish between that which will do us well and that which will do us harm. Really, truly, our natural state is health, and our bodies already know what we need.
And aside from the whole health aspect, look at the emotional side. If I had a nickle for every person I meet who is spending their adult life acting out childhood emotions, I would be a rich woman indeed. I mean, just because you don't want to feel something, doesn't mean that it goes away. It often seems to me that we live in a culture full or people who are all walking around with a huge pile of festering unexpressed feelings of one sort or another.
I once read an article by a woman who was struggling with many of these issues. She was trying really hard to treat her body as sacred. So she decided that she would imagine a sacred being inhabiting her body and then try to treat herself the way she would treat that sacred being. So, the most sacred person she could think of was the Dali Lama. I don't remember the whole article but the part that stuck with me went something like this: "If the Dali Lama really were living inside of me, would I really refuse to let him pee because I had too much work to do?"
Of course I realize that not everybody wants to live my nouveau-hippie lifestyle, but I do think that we'd all be much healthier and happier if we paid less attention to the chaos around us and focused more on listening to our own bodies, and honoring our own selves. On some level, you already know what you need.
So honor your inner Dali Lama, I say...
and never, EVER forget where the true evil lurks...