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I like to get up early in the morning.  I don’t always do it; it’s bizarrely common for my wife (whom I should say, does not enjoy getting up early) and me to begin our day with a two-hour symphony involving five different alarms and carefully calibrated snooze buttons.  In case you’ve never experienced the delicate timing of this, it means an alarm goes off approximately every five and a half minutes for two hours, and somehow we believe that’s more restful than just getting up, or accepting reality and setting  the alarm later – false hope should pay rent at our house.  At least I’m guessing that’s why we play the game.  We believe communication is vital to a good relationship as long as it happens after 9:00 am, so it’s possible that she has an entirely different perspective on the alarms, but I’m not ready to risk our marriage to find out. 

When I do make it up early, it’s great.  I have a job that involves a lot of interaction, an addiction to communication devices, and a two-year-old who believes that a thought doesn’t exist unless she says it out loud repeatedly, so 5-7 am  is the only quiet window in my day.  It gives me some time to read and listen, to focus before the distracting parts of my own brain wake up, and often to decide which of my different lives need most of my attention for the day. 

I have to schedule my work days ahead of time, so they’re the easiest to determine, since they’re not really up for debate.  Dad days require the most intentionality (at least if I’m going to make them good and not fall into the trap of treating them like a burden), because it feels like they have no deadline or due date, except when I look at her and realize that she’s two inches taller than when I last noticed and even I can’t remember when that happened or when she changed from a baby into a person and I’ve been here the whole time.  In those moments the deadline looms large.  The writing days will be patient the longest, but can get really pushy when they’re finally tired of waiting around for creating to become a priority.  There are even pay the bills, do some laundry, pretend you’re a handyman, and go to the grocery store unless you want to starve days (often my wife and I do some advanced musical chairs playing to see who gets stuck with this day).  And there are days when I leave all of them to fight it out among themselves and find my way to the beach, or the mall, or the couch, or even the kitchen, because the quickest way to quiet anything down is to feed it.   

So on the good days, when it’s a little after 5, and I have some coffee and I’ve glanced quickly at my email and Facebook and Twitter and the New York Times and the local paper online (this goes faster than you’d imagine and who knows what could have happened overnight), I can settle in for just a little while.  My dad reads the obituaries in the paper every morning; he says it’s to make sure his name’s not in there.  I think for me too, my days are better when I start out making sure I’m alive.  It’s when I decide which life I’ll live today, which of my selves I’ll be, or at least work towards being.   Maybe one day I’ll get up early and find them all together, getting along, excited for one another, and we’ll all be the same. 

in Him all things hold together

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