Steve Eaton: If we change the world, we can all sleep in and James Taylor will do the rest

Published: Friday, March 22 2013 9:05 p.m. MDT

To launch yourself out of bed after five hours of sleep and within minutes throw yourself onto a treadmill is like having a sensitive sprained finger and rushing out to slam it in your car door.

Keith Johnson, Deseret News

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I know there is a true and good way to sleep, and it’s not what most of you think it is.

You probably think that rising early and seizing the day by the throat is the ideal way to go. For some of you, when the Army said, “We do more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day,” you considered that a selling point. I understand all of this. I know it’s part of our culture to celebrate those who rise with the sun and go straight to work. That’s what the Waltons did and it doesn’t get more real than Walton’s Mountain.

I’ve experienced something different, however, a higher plane, if you will, and I ask only that you open your mind for a moment and consider the possibility that there is something beyond what the Red Red Robin taught us.

When I was a kid, we used to go visit an aunt and uncle one week each year. They lived in Oregon, had two kids and at the end of that week, their two kids came to visit us in Washington. It was a way that our parents could take a week vacation without kids but my brother and sisters considered it an unbeatable adventure. A trip to Treasure Island.

My aunt and uncle had a relatively deep, above-ground swimming pool with a deck around it. This was not the kind of pool a fat guy could knock over by tripping and falling on it like someone does each week on “America’s Funniest Videos.” It was a wondrous pool. They also had a horse (not in the pool) and house stocked with dozens of comic books. The best thing they had, however, was a sweet, peaceful way of greeting each day sometime between 10 a.m. and noon. There were no alarms.

How do I explain this to you? If everyone in the house gets up when their body is ready to wake up, they get to just ease into life. Now it’s possible that I’ve romanticized this over the years, but I remember that tiny sparrows would fly in the window to help us get dressed. It was like living in a Walt Disney cartoon. I swear there were butterflies everywhere.

I’ve been going to meet a friend at the gym first thing in the morning recently and it is a deeply, fundamentally flawed way of approaching life on so many levels. To launch yourself out of bed after five hours of sleep and within minutes throw yourself onto a treadmill is like having a sensitive sprained finger and rushing out to slam it in your car door. It makes no sense

I arrive and there is a room full of “morning people” in pain, just running their little hearts out on these treadmills and ellipticals making this military, forced-labor sound, and the symbolism of it all appears to be lost on them. The words “rat race” come to my mind every time.

There’s a James Taylor song called “Sunny Skies” in which he sings:

Sunny Skies sleeps in the morning

He doesn’t know when to rise

He closes his weary eyes upon the day

Look at him yawning

Throwing his morning hours away

Still he knows how to ease down slowly

And everything is fine in the end

But there’s one line in the song that really bugs me. When I get a chance to interview James Taylor, I’m going to ask him what this line is supposed to mean. (If any of you know James, would you have him please call me?) The line is:

And you will be pleased to know

That Sunny Skies hasn’t a friend

Now why is that?! Why would it make us happy to know that this mellow guy who knows the joy of easing down slowly doesn’t have a friend? I think it’s because people just can’t stand the fact that there’s this one guy out there sleeping in bed while they are running on treadmills and slamming their fingers in car doors.

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