I get up at 4:45 every morning throughout the workweek — sometimes a few minutes earlier.
As you might imagine, that hour feels much more like the middle of the night than it does the early morning. It is still dark out. My husband is still breathing heavily and deeply, comfortably tucked under the covers, where he will stay, sound asleep, for another 2½ hours. The only sounds are the quiet hiss of air through the floor vents, and the whistle and rumble of a distant train beyond the woods.
And as my consciousness reluctantly awakes to the fact that, in a few moments, I must pry myself out of my soft, cool cocoon of a bed, where the warm body of my snuggling dog is wedged tightly against my stomach, I think:
“What I wouldn’t give to stay here for even just one more hour ...”
The last week or so, it occurred to me to actually respond to this query of sorts: What would I give to stay in bed longer? What I realized was this: There are indeed things I could give up, resulting in my ability to stay in bed a bit longer. In fact, if all I did in the morning were primp, I’d be out the door in less than 30 minutes — meaning I could sleep another hour and a half, until 6:15, and still leave my house by 6:45 to arrive at work on time.
So why don’t I? If I so thoroughly loathe vacating the comfort of my bed at such an inhumane hour (and I do), why don’t I opt to stay there for 90 additional minutes? Didn’t I just say one of my first thoughts each morning is, “What I wouldn’t give to stay in bed ...”?
Well, simply put, I’ve realized I wouldn’t give much. I wouldn’t give up reading the Bible lesson over breakfast, my dogs sitting patiently beside me. Missing either of those would leave me hungry for not only food, but also inspiration.
I wouldn’t give up my morning walk with my dogs, the fresh air sweet and invigorating, the sound of the dogs’ tags ringing clear in the quiet still of predawn. Missing our walk would mean forgoing precious bonding time with my two dogs, sacrificing time to mentally and emotionally prepare myself for the day, and giving up a chance to appreciate the beauty of the outdoors before my daytime obligations become paramount in my consciousness.
Now, sometimes I wish I could accomplish all these things without having to get up at 4:45 in the morning, but even then, I would miss out on some of the things I love most about my day: the intimacy of the early-morning hours, the privacy of the darkness, the moonlight, the sunrise, the stars, the kindred spirits I sometimes encounter — neighbors up and out as early as I am, whether because they have to be or because they love to be. I understand both. I would miss the chirping of the crickets, and I would miss watching the world wake up. All of these things are as indispensable to my morning routine as is brushing my teeth.
So tomorrow, when I reluctantly throw back the covers and the thought occurs to me, “What I wouldn’t give to stay in bed another hour,” I will try to remember the answer: nothing.
The moonlight spilling onto black asphalt through pine needles; the pale blush of pink or peach or gold dusting the bottom of gray clouds; the sound of my dogs’ paws trotting along the sidewalk beside me; the hoot of an owl, hidden in the dark of the woods; warm lights blinking on in the upstairs windows of houses lining the street; the occasional shooting star blazing across the purple-black sky; the earliest birdsong of the day — I would give up none of these. Not even for another 90 minutes of sleep.
Amanda S. Creasey lives in Chester and works as a high school English teacher. A dog lover, writer, runner and hobbyist gardener, she is working on becoming a novelist and a certified life coach. She maintains Mind the Dog Writing Blog (named for her dogs), and can be found at amandasuecreasey.com.