No, Not Like Spenser

10/16/2018 7 By BuddyCushman

I woke up and got up at 4:42 this morning, soon after began my morning “rituals” of sitting in meditation, bowing, drinking coffee while reading books that help me out, then heading to the basement and writing my three Morning Pages. The alarm in our bedroom has been set for 5:30 mornings for years, which is when I get up nearly all my days to go do the morning stuff. Maybe once every couple of weeks my wife Susan is insistent that there be no alarm – an insistence that feels misplaced to me as she always falls back asleep, well nearly always – and though I usually still wake up in the 5 – 5:30 time I do rarely sleep-in until 6 – 6:15. I begin those days depressed, knowing I will be forever trying to catch-up the rest of the day. Today, on the other hand, I got a jump on life.

My son Spenser is a busy guy. He attends a pretty cool 9:30 – 3:30 day program three days a week, and works with individual providers two more, mostly 12 – 4. He is more invested in sleep that I am. On the day program days I am in his room by 8am, beginning what is quite often a begging/threatening/making up impending doom shit process until he gets up like 8:30 or so. On the provider days he gets to sleep in, and nearly always I’m up there again, waking him up sometime after 10:30, when I remember. On occasion he keeps the noon-time person waiting. Then there are the weekends in which Spenser is allowed to sleep-in without a mean old dad barging in to haul him out of dreamland, and most Saturdays and Sundays find him still under the covers, knocked out, after 1pm. Sometimes it’s 2.

This is incomprehensible to me. First, I don’t know how it’s physically possible to sleep that late. Even if he is up on his phone or watching a movie til, say 12:30 – 1am. How is it possible? But, far beyond the physiological question is the existential. The days, as Warren Zevon sang so sweetly, “slide by”, and they ain’t coming back. Neither is the hour that ticked off three hours ago. Thoreau said, “Time is a stream I go a-fishing in”, and anyone knows the best fishing is at dawn. My best thinking, day in and day out, is in that still, quiet, dark-to turning-light time before 7am. Way before. My brain is on fire then, and I am reading, devotedly reading, and being inspired and instigated and making plans and writing down ideas in one notebook or another, and like they’d say on WBCN back in 1960s Boston, “the creek ain’t rising and there ain’t no meltdown” , and it is all good. It’s all good.

Now don’t mention this to my wife, but the 5:30 thing isn’t working for me anymore. I think the real magic is earlier. Now, with the new Keto-oriented eating lifestyle I’ve adopted, you read all the time that lots and lots of adequate sleep is absolutely crucial to staying healthy. Of course I also read all the time that writers and artists do some of their best work at 3am, and that there is and long has been a strong case to be made for less sleep for a more productive life, or for shorter sleep periods and subsequent naps. Like most things, there is no shortage of conflicting opinions.

But for me, the 5:30 thing needs to go. Getting up at 4:42 today was so cool, and I found myself with more early energy and charge for the day than I have in a while. Still, it was only 45 minutes before the usual wake-up. Nah, and pssst, keep this to yourself, I’m ready to begin waking and getting up at 4:00 every morning – months and months and months of 4am life. Where the action is.

I don’t want to be like Spenser. Or like all the people who think sleeping-in is a good thing. In fact, maybe you. Because my son and all those people are flat-out missing the boat. And kids – when I say “the boat” – I mean “The Boat!”