The sun is snuggled still sleeping behind the mountains. He pulls their snowy peaks over his head and indulges in another hour of sleep. Not me, though. I’m awake. I’m out in public. I am caffeinated and somewhat functional. I am not necessarily in a bad mood. It's just a morning one. I am working the opening shift at the cafe. The sky is still dark.
“Why?” a customer asks when I tell her what time I have to leave my apartment, 4:00 AM. “That’s ridiculous,” she says and orders a sugar-free, nonfat, vanilla latte. With whip.
But before that, before the customers, the questions, and the sunrise, I clock in, turn on the lights, the coffee maker, and the espresso machine. The espresso machine yawns out streams of room temperature and then hot water. Two espresso shots pour directly into the sink, and the machine spits out more water to wash away all evidence. Now it is awake and ready to work. Well, good. At least one of us is.
Who told you that you have to write in the morning?
Well, there is Julia Cameron and her morning pages. Somewhere along the line, there was a Christian artist that equated the first hours of the morning with the first fruits of the harvest. The writer of Ecclesiastes spoke of new mercies that come with the morning, and someone convinced me that mercies should be used immediately after arrival. There is also the serpent. I drank the kool-aid that I was told to avoid.
I don’t have a problem writing three pages or setting aside time for writing. My problem is the morning itself. Despite the demands of my profession, I am not a morning person. I despise them. I am like the sun, best and brightest at around 1:00 in the afternoon. Dancers are taught not to read too much of the first dress rehearsal because it will be bad. Writers are told not to judge the first draft. Baristas throw out the first espresso shot. Why, then, do we demand so much from the first hours of the day?
Yes, there are people who thrive in the mornings. As a writer friend of mine once said, “Good for those people. Jesus loves them.” But I have to wonder if we get so caught up with the Biblical authors’ praise for the morning, that we forget the stories about God walking with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening, or the one about Jesus asking his friends to stay awake a little longer. There is room for them in the Bible. Shouldn’t there also be room for them in our workshops and libraries, or is creativity limited to when and not if it is done at all?
At the literal and figurative end of the day, there are few things like falling into the arms of a good, firm (or even a mediocre and squishy) mattress and feeling the days work drain from your spine. This a gift that, in my mind, is far superior to the first few notes of my alarm clock that stab me awake well before dawn. When it comes, shades of orange and pale pinks stretch and shift across the sky. The sun takes it time rising, and the sky is still dark, but give it a moment. Light always comes later in the day.