I went to bed early and set my alarm for 4:30. I read for a bit, turned out the lights, put music on low, and fell asleep. My wife came to bed later. I woke to be with her then fell back to sleep and woke just as the alarm was set to go off.
For a while I was getting up each day at 4:45, emptying the dishwasher, making coffee, using the bathroom, dressing, then walking down to the basement and writing for an hour. It was good but I fell out of it. I couldn't get myself out of bed. I wasn't sleeping well, felt depressed, didn't know what to write, and was having a drink each evening. I slid back into waking just in time to get to work and being unhappy.
Yesterday I set my mind to the habit of waking early again. I want to change.
I knew it would be a struggle. At 4:30 I told myself I would feel good if I got up, but I was so tired and getting up meant uncertainty. What would I do, run or write? I hadn't decided. Turns out, I needed a better plan.
In the face of the uncertainty, I closed my eyes. I chastised myself for giving in. I wondered how was I would write, lose weight, and change if I lay in bed? I was tired and scared. The bed was warm and safe. I let go.
Just before five I woke again. I pulled the covers back and with my body exposed to the morning, thought again about sleep, but I was sitting up and already moving. I walked downstairs, emptied the dishwasher, and used the bathroom. I started but then stopped making coffee. I didn't really want it. I took the computer down to the nook and wrote.
What has changed?
Not much. I'm awake and half dressed. I've written five hundred words. I weight 213.4 pounds. In an hour I will drive to work. I'm not a changed man and that bothers me. I have trouble appreciating what I've done (getting out of bed, skipping my coffee habit, and writing hundreds of words) because I'm stuck on what hasn't happened (I'm still tired, short of money, fat, and going to the same job). I want things to change right now.
I know change take time. I can't lose twenty pounds overnight, but I still want to. I got up early, skipped the coffee, and I'm writing. Where's my prize?
Getting up early this morning, skipping the coffee, and writing hasn't changed much. Neither will getting up early again tomorrow. I'll weigh about the same, have the same amount of money, be the same writer, and go to the same job. It will feel the same on the next day and the day after that.
It will take a year or two of mostly waking early, making coffee only when I want it, and writing hundreds of thousands of words. The changes will be slow and as easy to overlook as they are this morning. I'll need to carefully observe and have some faith. I'll need to go through my fear.
Like getting out of bed this morning, I will have reasons not to do any of it. I'll be afraid and sometimes I'll give in to that fear. Giving in doesn't mean giving up. Tomorrow, I might get up at 4:30 or I might bury my head until later. Either way, the next morning I get to choose again.
I've recovered from worse mistakes than sleeping in. I've gotten through darker fears. Already, I see small wins I can claim this morning. I'm on my way. I've just barely crossed the starting line and it's a long race, but I've taken a step forward, I'm awake. All that's left is to write on.