Upstairs a giant clock sits in front of my room door. If you listen close enough, you can make out each click as it circles past midnight. You can hear water gurgle and flush through the pipes inside the walls. You can hear my family snoring– drifting deeper into their sleep, the shifting of their bodies, and the nosiey creaks from their beds.
It’s 4 AM, and I’ve been writing for almost five hours now. Its been a long time since I’ve felt the desire to write for this long. I feel creative, I feel inspired, and despite the lack of sleep, I think I’ll continue writing.
Maybe it has something to do with the silence. Perhaps it’s the Ritalin.
I’d like to think I’ve been sprinkled with fairy dust. The kind that makes someone want to write a novel.
Okay, maybe I’m overexaggerating, it isn’t that deep.
There was a time when you wouldn’t catch me up after 8 PM. That was when I was 25 and experimenting, as one does in a quarter-life crisis.
I would fall asleep early and wake up before sunrise. I felt like I was doing something right. I would read about these health gurus that were awake by 4 AM. Pumping iron and saving the world.
And if you really wanted to be a badass, you’d be up an hour before those guys. I heard Mark Wallburg is doing it too.
“Who me? Oh, I’m up before sunrise– no big deal.”
If someone asked about my schedule, I would proudly say that I’ve been up since 4 AM. Wearing the bags under my eyes with pride.
Before checking my phone, looking in the mirror, (and maybe even before opening my eyes) I would brew a cup of coffee– Pilon Espresso stuffed to the brim– and wait for the caffeine to do its magic.
Pilon Espresso Coffee; it gets the job done. (Not a sponsor)
Most mornings, I would pick up a book and read a few pages while I wait for the coffee to reinvigorate my senses. (Does that make any sense?)
Motivated by the caffeine rushing through my body, I would then put the book away, slip on my running shoes, lock up the door and finally, jog to the community gym.
Some mornings I would have the place all to myself, with my music bouncing off the walls, coating my grunts as I flex through one more leg-raise, then another.
Other days I’d have company, an older guy, somewhere in his 40’s. He’d beat me to the leg-raises by half an hour. He kept the gym lights on and the fan off. It smelled like he’d been there for hours, and like clockwork, 30 minutes later he was gone.
When he left I would do the opposite; lights off, fan on. Just dark enough so that I can see through the windows, and not be seen from the outside.
Each morning I followed (mostly) the same routine, led by a simple rule: lift heavy weights. (As suggested in “Bigger, Leaner, Stronger” by Michael Matthews) Then ending with a 10-minute ride on the stationary bike, before or after, depending on how I felt that morning.
Bigger Leaner Stronger by Michael Matthews
It was easy to remember, therefore easy to follow:
Lifting heavy weights = Bigger muscles and higher testosterone levels.
As a 27-year-old male, that’s enough motivation for me to continue weight lifting.
I stood faithful to this schedule for an entire year, but all good things come to an end, sometimes overnight. Finally, one morning I slept till 6, then 7, then 8 AM. And Just like that, I was a normal person again.
Now, two years later, here I am, writing this at 4:42 AM– and to be completely honest, I can’t tell the difference.
Maybe it isn’t about the time that we wake up, perhaps what’s more important is what we do with those waking hours.
Would you agree, or do you believe one is better than the other?
I would love to hear from you, if you’re feeling up to it, leave me a comment– or two.