Real Men and Waking Up Early

As I sit here basking in the glow of my 13 inch computer in an otherwise dark room this morning, I’m reminded about one of what I consider to be one of the great tenets of manhood, that is, waking up early

Growing up as a child and a teenager, I was always amazed each morning how early my dad woke up. No matter how early I got up each day, without fail, he’d already be awake and laying on the couch wearing his Nike hoodie and reading the paper.

The funny thing is… the man is not an early to bed kind of guy. This is a man who regularly stayed up late to watch Letterman in its entirety. The even more amazing thing to me, that I’ve only learned in the past few years, is that he never uses an alarm clock either.

I never understood that facet of my dad’s life until recently. You see, for most of my life I’ve told myself a story that wasn’t true. And while I’ve definitely told myself many stories that aren’t true, the story I’m talking about right now is the story that I was not a morning person.

For most of my life, I’ve been a snoozer. When I was a kid, my parents had to institute a 10 a.m. reverse bedtime during the summers and weekends to prevent me from sleeping all day. And boy did I ever balk at that one. In college, if I didn’t have early morning classes, I could (and often did) sleep until 10:40 or so no matter how late I stayed up.

That was my sleeping in pattern for most of my life.

A few months ago, that all changed. I guy who’s blog I read, posted about the idea that each of us has several internal stories (plural) that may or may not be true that we tell ourselves that make up our STORY (singular).

I’ve always been a firm believer that our lives are story and his blog post got me thinking about my life and the stories I’ve told myself that maybe weren’t true.

The timing of that blog post couldn’t have been better. Just a few days earlier, I’d heard a man speak at a luncheon who’s own story really resonated with me. A very successful business man and person of faith, the speaker spoke on the importance of being a man of discipline. A man of discipline himself, he spoke about how men of discipline wake up early A) because it’s difficult and B) because life is short and sleeping through too much of it really is a waste.

The combination of the blog post about the stories we tell ourselves that aren’t always true and the idea that men of discipline wake up early couldn’t have intersected more perfectly in my life. I left the luncheon thinking to myself, “Self… I want to be a man of discipline even if that means waking up early.”

And so that night, I set my alarm to go off the next day at 5:00 a.m. When it went off, I got up. I read a few chapters of a book I was reading at the time, I prayed, I sat in silence, and I ran a mile. Despite the fact that I was exhausted by 2 p.m. that afternoon, it was a great experience.

It wasn’t until a few days later when I read the aforementioned blog post that I was really able to articulate what I’d already been feeling about my own story as a morning person. Since that time (it was last November) I’ve been re-telling myself that story almost every day when my alarm goes off and I stumble out of bed at 5, 5:30, or (on bad days) 6:00 a.m.

As Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Waking up early has been a great help in my attempts to stop and look around every once in a while.

Some mornings I go for a run. Some mornings I take a walk. Some mornings I read. Some mornings I write. Some mornings I reflect on who I am or what I’m accomplishing. Some mornings I think about my marriage. Some mornings I talk to God. Some mornings I just listen for his voice. And some mornings, (rarely but still occasionally) I waste almost 2 hours perusing the Facebooks, or the Twitterz, or my Google Reader RSS subscriptions.

I’m hesitant to say that waking up early has changed my life, but honestly, I can definitely say I’ve seen a marked improvement in my quality of life since last November when I started waking up early.

As a man, I think there’s something deep in my core that calls me to toward self-improvement and challenge. Waking up early, though really a small thing, has been a challenge that I’ve taken on successfully. Not only have I had more time to myself each morning for personal and spiritual reflection and development, but each day I get out of my bed before the sun comes up, I reinforce the idea that I have control over and can change the stories I tell myself.

The little victory I’ve had over my sleep story has started to make me question other questionably “true” stories that I’ve been telling myself for too long. It’s amazing how one little victory combined with a few more early morning hours of introspection each day can make all the difference in helping us become the men we want to be.

For me, realizing I could wake up early was not only a victory over a very real physiological and mental myth in my life, but it was also one of many early steps in my realization that I still had a long journey toward becoming a real man… a journey I’m still learning from and enjoying almost every day before most people are even awake.

Sometimes a real man does things that are difficult simply because of the discipline it takes to do so. I want to be a real man. I want to be a man of discipline. For me, a big part of that means I wake up early.

What about you?

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This entry was posted in Real Men and tagged , , by Michael. Bookmark the permalink.

About Michael

Was it Kierkegaard or Dick Van Patten who said, ''If you label me, you negate me.'' I call people amigo, bromigo, broseph, amigo, and brojangles a lot. It's a problem... I know. I also fight gangs for local charities and stuff like that, and I have a strong affinity for the fist bump as a primary means of greeting people. When I'm not doing those things, I'm busy trying to balance my efforts to be a good husband & dad, a man of God, a professional fundraiser, a friend, an amateur writer, an avid consumer of books and music, and defender of all things awesome. Check out my blog at FindingManhood.com

6 thoughts on “Real Men and Waking Up Early

  1. I liked this. I find that once I’ve started waking up at the same time (6:15 for me), then it becomes pattern, whether I go to bed at 10 or 1. I don’t yet have the discipline to get up and do something productive (I’ve planned on jumping rope and/or reading), but the waking up, feeding the dog, and taking a shower is definitely a good start to the day.

    Thanks for the motivation to be better disciplined.

  2. Pingback: Sunrise Sampler « Finding Manhood

  3. Having kids helps keep you from sleeping in, but getting up even earlier than they do requires intention. I agree with the value of this idea. It also contributes to being early. Reminds me a little of your thoughts on stories. I grew up in a family farm. Everyone thinks we got up crazy early. What we did was wake up about 7, eat and get ready and leave by 7:45. We worked until about 11 p.m. or so in planting and harvest seasons and did it again the next day. This is a pattern I have carried over to almost every part of my life. Wake up about 45 minutes before I want to leave. I’m not known for being on time and often feel rushed. Related to that, it has always been hard for me to go to bed early. I loved eastern time zone because everyone went to sleep after the news, which came on at 11. However, just about every successful man I know of has been an early riser. I think it’s time for me to join them, maybe just because it is difficult.

  4. Pingback: Ode to Sleeping In « Finding Manhood

  5. Pingback: A Man’s Ode to Sleeping In

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