It’s 5:13 AM. I’m sitting by an open window and it’s dark outside. The air is cool; the coffee is hot. In a few minutes, the horizon will hint at a sunrise.
It doesn’t get much better than this, I think.
I love mornings. Even on the days I’m not working, I’m up early. I don’t want to miss the stillness, and the “firsts” – the first sounds of birds waking, the first rays of light, the first movement in the streets.
It feels like a fresh start. No matter what happened yesterday, morning gives me hope. It’s like a “do-over.” It has the potential to be a great day.
My daughter, Sara is also a morning person (though it’s tougher now that she has three little kids). When she was growing up, we’d get up early every Saturday morning, sit on the couch before anyone else was up, and talk for hours. It was our time.
It was awesome.
Not everyone shares my joy, however.
My son, Tim is a night person. It’s tougher now, because he manages a restaurant and often has to be there between 5:00 and 6:00 AM to open the store.
When he was little, he would sleep in until we woke him, and would fight his early bedtime every night. He absolutely loved nighttime – the later, the better. I never understood the attraction.
One year, we took a family vacation to Hawaii when the kids were in their early teens. Sara and I would get up to watch the sunrise and grab some juice or coffee.
Tim wanted to sleep in. We would wake him up, but he was pretty grumpy. We’d go for an early breakfast, but he wouldn’t talk. He barely ate his food, slumped over his meal and disengaged from conversation.
I thought it was because he was a teenager. I was concerned about his attitude, and felt like he was just being rude and rebellious. I was worried about our relationship. I tried to connect, but nothing happened.
I tried to “fix” him. It didn’t work.
He was perceptive enough to know what was happening. One morning, he mustered up enough energy to form a few words. He put his head up, looked me in the eye and said, “Just give me two hours. Don’t talk for two hours. We’ll be fine.”
And we were.
I would feel the same way if somebody tried to engage me in conversation late at night. I didn’t understand, but I came to appreciate it.
A few years later, Tim gave me an unusual gift for Father’s Day. He made a certificate that said he would take me to a midnight movie.
I said, “Hey! I thought you were supposed to give gifts that people actually want! A midnight movie? I’ll fall asleep!”
“Take a nap,” he said. “You’ll be fine.”
I really wasn’t looking forward to it, but he really wanted me to go. So I took a nap.
It was an action movie, so I actually stayed awake through the whole thing. We walked out of the theater about 2:15 AM. There weren’t very many people in the theater, so we stood on the street by ourselves.
It was quiet.
It was peaceful.
It was amazing. I had the same feeling I do when I get up at dawn.
He stood quietly for a minute, staring into the dark quietness as if to just take it all in.
“This is my world,” he said. “I wanted you to see it.”
I saw it. I felt it. And I loved him for sharing it with me.
I don’t think I’ll ever be a night person. And I’ll always prefer mornings – like I’m doing right now.
But I don’t debate which is better any more. I don’t have to be right.
I’ve just learned the value of looking through someone else’s eyes.