15. New Year / Starting Over

It’s Saturday, another week has blown by with less than two days’ worth of work getting accomplished. Mad at myself, again. Today again, I begin again, (again) with resolutions to change my life and build some new, better habits.

Waking as usual acts 9 AM, I get up and shuffle to the kitchen to make the coffee. I turn on the heat in the front room and close the door to the bedroom and bathroom – no need to heat them right now, I’m not going to be in there, I’m going to be right here in my warm corner, where I read books and scribble my thoughts, waiting for the winter to pass so I can feel alive again.

Again today I tried to get up earlier. I do this every day, and fail almost always. Yesterday I tried non-resistance; I didn’t set the clock, and I slept until 10 AM. Okay, that didn’t work. I keep on struggling to get up at seven or at least as early as eight, but my body keeps on defeating my will. This is becoming a sort of desperate feeling: my mind seeming to be unable to control my body. That’s one of the brain’s primary jobs, after all. But now my body is much stronger, or else that part of my mind that calls the orders for sleep, is stronger than the part that says “Get up. Get moving. Get it done.” (My new mantra.)

This morning I didn’t fight it. I didn’t set the alarm, I just slept till my body woke, 9 o’clock sharp. It happens whether I do this or whether I swat the snooze-alarm starting at 6:30 or seven or whatever time I set. After five or six ten-minute swats, I just sleep through the jangling noise and squawk of the radio until my brain wakes up at 9 o’clock.

After the 20 years I got up at 5 o’clock to get to work at 7 o’clock at the hospital, I still (often) wake up (totally) at 5:00 or 5:15. But I scoff now, and say out loud “No way.” and go back to sleep till 9:00. Meanwhile, there are many nights I cannot fall asleep, no matter what, and after I have tossed and turned miserably until three or four in the morning wide-awake, I turn off the alarm and surrender to the inevitable result: my body/mind now will take whatever time it wants or needs– usually till 11:00 or even later, and there is nothing I can do about it.

Okay, all right; the thought has occurred to me: What if you just forced yourself to get up at 7 o’clock no matter what? Wouldn’t your body/mind get used to it eventually, and do that on its own? (“Good luck with that,” I reply to myself.) And anyway, I’ve tried that. It falls apart because I cannot, absolutely cannot, get my body awake and up out of bed at 7 o’clock under any circumstances, except for the direst emergencies such as a major earthquake or having to take somebody to the airport. Then I’m up like a shot, staggering to the kitchen with eyes closed, making the coffee in an automatic, robot-like manner.

I need a good reason to get out of bed in the morning. A really good reason. That’s the long and short of it. A compelling reason, even though surely having a Pulitzer-Prize book to write ought to be reason enough. That ought to easily outweigh the laziness and make any normal person leap out of bed at the first glimmer of daylight. Not so for me, apparently. (Apparently I’m not a normal person. No news there.)

I’m reading poetry again, and again I am feeling, groping the ground around me, for some indication of the path. Am I still on my destiny’s road? Is this a detour? Or just a few miles of speed-bumps? (Which ought to be called Slow-bumps anyway.) Oh sigh.

Next month is another birthday, and I’m still trying to figure out my life. As I get older, I’m getting smarter, even wise in some ways, some moments. Wise enough to know that life will always be a challenging and confusing journey and even when I get to the end, that might be just a temporary stop-over before the next trip. Maybe it starts a new thing then, or maybe it just starts over, like the myth of Sisyphus.

He was the guy in that old Greek myth, the one that had to push and shove and struggle to roll a huge boulder up a huge hill all day long till nightfall, only to find the next morning that it had rolled back down the hill again, and he had to do it again. And again. Every day, forever. At first, that story really horrified me, at face value. But later I read somewhere that the meaning of the story is not to show his misery, but his immense courage to keep on doing it.

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