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.
And why does that make us mad? It makes us mad because deep, deep down inside, in a place we’ve buried alive, there’s a part of us that knows that we, too, should be sleeping in.
Here’s something that you may not know, but it is a scientifically proven fact. When you wake up first thing in the morning, right around your feet, under the covers, there is this tiny pocket of warm air. Pay attention to that next time you wake up before you start doing push-ups. Do you know what that is? It is your life force. That is where you get the will to live and it is only in the early morning that your feet can drink in that life force. Running on a treadmill first thing in the morning is one way to just trample any life force you have right to death.
We need to reclaim this deep truth of human nature before all humanity starts slogging out of reality on elliptical machines. If we reclaim our early morning hours, in time, Sweet Baby James will be able to write a new verse:
Sunny Skies sleeps in the morning
He taught all when to rise
Looking and yawning
He helped us all learn to fly
Now we know how to ease down slowly
And everything IS fine in the end
Change tunes, put on your hippy clothes and cue The 5th Dimension and “The Age of Aquarius.”
This is the dawning of the “Age of the Foot-pocket,”
“Age of the Foot-pocket,”
The life-force pocket!
OK, so I’m no James Taylor. I just know he will fix the words if we fix the world. All I am saying is give the bed a chance. Cue the John Lennon music:
You can say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will sleep till 1.
Steve Eaton lives and works in Logan, Utah. He can be reached at [email protected]