• Bill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday 8/27/21 – The Wee Hours of the Morning

“It was the hour in which objects lose the consistency of shadow that accompanies them during the night and gradually reacquire colors, but seem to cross meanwhile an uncertain limbo, faintly touched, just breathed on by light; the hour in which one is least certain of the world's existence.” ― Italo Calvino

I am one of those lark people. I am always up well before the sun. I think my internal clock got set to a 4 AM wake up early in life. I was a kid who delivered the morning news. I know, I am dating myself. For the younger generation, news was actually printed on paper and it was the place to learn about what was happening, hence the name newspapers. Delivered by kids like me, to doorsteps across America every morning so people could drink their morning coffee and read the news of the day. As an aside, newspapers had a huge influence on the formation of our nation, and particularly one started by a guy named Ben Franklin, right here in Pennsylvania. On reflection, newspapers influenced a whole lot over through our history by informing the populace. I still love analogue reading. But I digress.


As a kid, I would be up and out in the neighborhood before anything or anyone else moved, other than skunks which I kept a watchful eye out for. I could see the gradual shift between seasons in the night sky, and it was around this time of the year I could see the belt of Orion in the east start to rise in the early morning sky. This was my time to think without interruption. As I progressed along my route, the smudge of blue on the horizon would turn orange as the day moved into civil twilight and the stars became dimmer. The birds began to chirp as the day came into focus. Some mornings, the sunrise was so glorious, and it was mostly all mine. The streets vacant, the people still at rest in their homes.


These early morning hours are the time my head is clearest and my ability to creatively think about things are at their peak point of the day. I think these patterns became reinforced in adulthood when I ran a residential drug and alcohol treatment center. The only viable time to accomplish anything was before the rest of the staff showed up and events of the day took over. No plan ever entirely survived morning staff meeting.


The early morning hours are my time to write, my time to think and the best time for me to be out in nature. Over the course of the last year and a half, I have become more cognizant of how important this time of the day is to me. Writing has been a source of solace, and it has been such a joy to drink coffee, watch the sunrise outside as the hum of the neighborhood picks up and I peck away at the keyboard. This time of day and the late afternoon time hanging out with Julie as the sun hits our fireplace mantle are my most cherished.


Last year, I made a commitment to myself to get out in nature at least one morning every week. I have kept this commitment. This last Sunday, I was on the banks of the upper Delaware watching Bald Eagles on the opposite bank and taking pictures, including of the ladybug above, covered in the morning mist. This is a spot I have visited nearly 100 times in the last 18 months. I know these eagles and the ebb and flow of this ancient river in all of its seasons. I know what it looks, feels and sounds like as it wakes up and the sun hits its banks as its sends it carries water into the Atlantic.


This is the time that set the tone for the rest of my day. I admit, I have had mornings that start like a comedy of errors. My eyes fluttering opening with a fully embattled Eeyore brain on tilt. Not a glass half full, nary even a glass in sight. If I don’t shake it right away and something else bad happens, even a small thing like a broken shoelace, a dead car battery or a dog gets sprayed by a skunk (like 3 AM this morning), thing can stay ugly. Pulling it back can get harder and harder as the shit day picks up speed like a large fecal boulder rolling down a steep hill. Sorry for the visual. It is not pretty. As a recovering person, I cannot afford to stay there. I have seen enough to know that if we allow ourselves to wallow in such days long enough, we can get into trouble. Maybe that would not happen to me, but I don’t want to find out.


Mornings remind me of how very fortunate I am. The only thing I really have is today. It is a lesson I have come back to time and time again in recovery. It can be a hard one for a future focused person like me, and a person who early on had a past to ruminate over. But here I am. I have been in recovery for more years than I had expected to live in total. All in all, it has been a great ride thus far. A rollercoaster with peaks and valleys, but one still on the rails, nevertheless.


Grateful for the early morning hours and to see Orion’s belt in the east once again as the sun rises and turns the sky from black to orange to blue. Grateful for this morning cup of coffee and a keyboard to peck at and birds I can hear chirping. Grateful that CVS is open 24/7 for dog de-skunking preparations. Grateful for this day and all the opportunities it holds.


What are you grateful for today?

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