Early Morning Reflections
I should be worried about not sleeping. Isn’t that what you do when you retire and don’t have much else to talk about? We can fuss over the ideal pillow and mattress and complain about our partner’s snoring. We can read the latest research report and worry that lack of sleep contributes to weight gain and a shorter life expectancy, but I choose to enjoy the extra hours of early morning time. I eagerly read articles reporting that there were older cultures that regularly had “awake” time in the middle of the night with special activities planned for that time. I remember that my mother said she only slept 5 hours a night. She lived to 89 so it must not have shortened her life too much.
When I get caught up in a bad dream I’ve learned to give myself permission to wake and get up. Rather than worry about falling asleep again and having another nightmare, I just move to my Woman Den, turn on NPR and relax in my recliner, with my only worry being whether I’ve set the volume correctly on the radio and whether my comforter will keep me the right temperature. I soon enter an adventure of book reviews, interviews with newsmakers, investment reports and story corps interviews with ordinary folks telling about meaningful moments with a special person in their lives. I may fall asleep again, which is fine if it happens, but, if not, I feel I’ve been on an adventure around the world and am so glad I didn’t miss the experience.
Oddly, I’ve learned that NPR stories repeat in a 2- hour cycle. Once I hear the first words of a repeated story I immediately know it’s time for a change – maybe a new attempt to sleep, maybe breakfast with the newspaper, maybe a switch to local news radio or a peak at my cellphone. Whatever the choice, it isn’t a cause for worry but a joy that in retirement I can do things that were not previously part of my life, take adventures and learn things from the comfort of a reclining chair and start my day with a jumpstart on the news and maybe some ideas for books to read, places to travel to, or news to share with family or friends. O how I appreciate the absence of the alarm clock in my current life.
Note: This vignette was written while the author was participating in a Creative Writing workshop led by Shannon Applegate in August, 2016, a workshop offered through the Creative Arts Eliot Camp sponsored by Eliot Institute.