I had a bit of trouble with this one, since I am at a happy point in my life that I don’t have to get up at all; in the sense that I am not on the clock. My retired pay doesn’t allow me to jet from city to city to celebrate New Year’s in all the time zones, but I don’t really have a desire to do that.
For most of my life I had gotten up for reasons placed upon me by the state (to go to school) and then for reasons placed upon me by my own decisions which placed my decisions in someone else's hands (enlisting in the Army). I spent years watching the sun rise because I was still up from the day before or longer; it has forever destroyed my internal clock. I still am liable to pull 36 or 48 hours straight when I get an idea fixed in my head, and then I will sleep for ten or twelve hours straight; been known to sleep for the whole day. I think I still average the same amount of waking time that ‘normal’ people average, I just do it in different shifts.
The last 12 years of my career I was getting up because I expected my troops to get up. I am categorically opposed to leading from the back; so if I expect my troops to be up, I need to be up before them, to show them it is do-able. If I expect my troops to work till the job is over, I need to be right there with them. It sucks wind through a big straw to have to get up after only a few hours sleep; I figured it made it easier if there was a crusty old staff sergeant already up and about with his trusty cup of coffee cracking jokes and kicking the right butts to initiate movement. It is difficult to lead from the front when the ones you are leading are half your age. It takes an effort of will. Or coffee. Caffeine or willpower; if you don’t have one, you need a lot of the other.
I don’t have troops any longer, but I do have kids. They are tougher, in a lot of ways, than troops. You can’t use reason on them, very often; least not the types of reasoning that work with adults. Time is meaningless to a kid. Everything is ‘NOW’. That is actually quite a good lesson for us adults, I think. Kids automatically live in the Now; and even though it is a pain in the ass, I can’t fault them for doing something that all the Masters say we are supposed to do. Kids, like the Mission, don’t care that I just got to sleep. If they want some time with Daddy, they want it now; and no amount of reasoning will suffice to encourage them to delay gratification.
So, quite often, I get up because the kids have decided it is time to wake up the sleeping Bear. And I have to give them credit, if they are willing to risk waking me, (I am sometimes rather less than cordial before my coffee) it must be important to them that I get up. I forget sometimes how important just spending time in the Now with my kids is. They don’t even care what we do, so long as we do it together. I am reminded of a Calvin and Hobbes panel in which Calvin is trying to get his dad outside to play in the snow with him. The father, of course, thinks it is necessary and important to do the work he had brought home. He realizes, however, that the really important thing (his Son) is outside playing in the snow. Hard work pays off in the long run, but procrastination pays off right Now. It is a cliche’, of course, but there is Truth in it. The Rule of the Oak comes into play, also.
I wish I could say that I greet each day with the thrilling realization that a New World has dawned, and it is time for me to be out in it. Sadly, this is both the case, and is not. A New World (Order) may have dawned, but I don’t like it much, and so I don’t want to be out in it. There isn’t a hell of a lot that interests me outside our little world that the wife and I are creating. I have not seen and done everything under the sun, but I have done enough that it is quite difficult to find something ‘new’ out there. I do enjoy finding something new inside me; quite often I find it by looking through my kids eyes. Everything is new to them, and so is new to me vicariously. I don’t want to live my life through them; it is enough to see the world through their eyes. They are not yet cynical; their possibilities are endless; the most frustrating thing in their world is being told that it is bed time. And they wake up with such a passion for life that it is hard not to get caught up in it, if I only remember to let myself get caught up in it.
I spend a lot of my time in reflection; which is the Right Action for me right now. In order to evolve, I think it is important to periodically stop and process all the things that got programmed into us without our full awareness. It is important, to me, to evolve. If I am not busy growing, I am diminishing. If I am not living, I am dying. Interestingly enough, the key to living life with these absolutes is to walk the Middle Path; between the Then and the When. The Now is the only part of our Universe that we can interact with. I still love Life; and I still get a kick out of interacting with the Now. There is so much more Power available to Man when one focuses all the energy into the Now, instead of wasting it on the Then or the When. Watch a child at play; the focus that a child achieves when lost in play is the Truest form of existence that I know. I learn a lot from my kids, when I remember that I do not know it all; and accept that they know some things instinctively that I have forgotten.
I used to get up because the friggin alarm clock was going off; I hated that sound. It was annoying. Waking up still sucks; lucid dreaming is such a kick. But now I get to wake up to a much better sound; one that fills my heart with joy when I allow it to.