I am not a morning person.
My mind is like a freight train. It takes everything I’ve got to get it moving from a standstill. But once it’s moving, its momentum can carry me deep into the night.
I’ve tried to become a morning person many times. I’ve also had multiple jobs that required me to be physically present in the early hours of the morning. I can get up early. But, physical presence and mental presence are two very different things.
A few months ago I made another attempt. I decided that I was going to try to get up early and read every morning for an hour before starting my day. I’ll admit, it didn’t last long. But it allowed me to witness something fascinating that had been occurring in our apartment for years without me having the slightest idea.
We have two cats, Miko and Suki.
They sleep in the bed with us every night. Suki at the head of the bed and Miko between my feet. They hop in as soon as they see we’re laying down for the night, fall asleep almost instantly, and stay until around 5am when they both get up and leave. I’d always assumed that’s just when they woke up. But, in my latest attempt at becoming a morning person, I discovered something: the cats were getting up to watch the sunrise.
You see, our apartment has an eastward-facing balcony with a view that stretches across the San Francisco Bay. Every morning our apartment is cast in a beautiful and warm blaze of a new day’s first light.
And every morning Miko and Suki wake up, set up shop on the balcony, and wait for the sun to crest the hills that frame the east side of the bay. As the sun makes its ascent and the beams begin to stretch across the water and kiss their faces, they lay down and stretch themselves out, basking in and soaking up every last ray.
They do this every morning like clockwork.
And so for several weeks, we woke up together. I’d find a place on the couch and read while they enjoyed the sunrise.
It was one of those subtle, quietly-beautiful moments — so small you might not even notice it at all — that holds something profound and universal.
I used to think of an early start as a way to get ahead of the day. But Miko and Suki were pointing to a greater reality:
The present isn’t something to get ahead of, it’s a current we tap into.
The cats know this instinctively. They seem to only live in the now. Human consciousness is prone to drifting, though. We get disconnected and out of sync. We fall behind and try to get ahead.
What started as an attempt at a head start turned into me simply getting up to watch the cats greet the day. Because it helped me tap into it, too.
It’s since become a helpful practice for reconnecting with the now. I return to it whenever I find myself feeling adrift.