Sally Sampson has epiphanies at ungodly hours. Somebody get this bitch some sleeping pills...
I try to be quite a happy person, but the truth is, I really can be quite a miserable cow sometimes! And I, for the most part, attribute this to the ungodly hour that I have to wake up at in order to start my day and get to work in the mornings.
If you don’t know this already, my day usually starts at 4 AM. Oh yeah…
Every morning, I wake with a jolt to the not-so-soothing sounds of my alarm clock (not unlike Bill Murray in Groundhog Day), check the time and then proceed to climb off the top-bunk onto the floor and occasionally onto my face, depending on whether or not my legs decide to cooperate. I then go on to operate on low-battery mode for the next hour and a half, meaning I only have one-eye open for that entire time which, as you might imagine, can prove to be fairly challenging.
That early in the morning, I am also always shocked to discover how my home, which was perfectly normal when I went to sleep, has transformed itself into an obstacle course overnight. All of a sudden, there are chairs and desks and walls (fucking WALLS!) that all seem intent on getting in my way and preventing me from making it to the Promised Land (my kitchen) full of God’s many blessings (coffee)!!!
And people always ask me, “Yeah, but doesn’t waking up that early get easier over time? Don’t you get used to it?” In a word… actually make that two words: Hell NO!
Granted, most don’t rise before the sun like me but based on my own memories of having to be dragged out of bed by my parents for school and judging by the many, many conversations I have had with working friends who never seem to be fully awake (or sober) at any point before noon, waking up early or waking up in general is not something that you just ‘get used to over time’ so I am baffled why anyone expects me get accustomed to it.
If anything, it just gets harder. Over the course of the last week, every time I would hit the floor with my face and fall awake (it’s my new expression for it…nothing else really fits!), I wasn’t really bothered by the obvious pain of the impact, but was far more aware of the fact that my body felt like it had been beaten to a pulp by baseball bats in the middle of the night. I knew I couldn’t attribute the pain to exercise because the last time I worked out, mobile phones hadn’t been invented yet, and unless I’ve been sleepwalking over to the gym, it doesn’t really make sense.
I decided to talk to a friend about this and they said to me “Well Sally, that’s what happens with age, you see! You start to feel it in your bones!” So I instantaneously told them to fuck off and promptly pretended that the conversation hadn’t happened. Come to think of it though, I don’t think they were fully awake (or sober) at the time of our interaction. In fact, they probably won’t even remember that we talked. I think I need to get some new friends…but that’s a different story.
It’s just a different kind of ‘tired’ that I’ve been experiencing lately. It’s not an ache that begins in the muscles; it’s a discomfort that originates in the mind. It usually starts with me thinking about my circumstances, my past, my present, the question mark over my future and then moves on to the debts that I have to manage, the responsibilities that I have to step up to, the disappointments I have to let go of, the people that I need to maintain a relationship with…and oh boy, once you pop, you’re really fucked! I sit there making lists and downloading organisers and making 10-step do-it-yourself plans for myself.
If you want to know what it’s like, imagine a computer having a programme constantly running in the background that you don’t know about, as you go about using it the way you usually do, browsing Facebook and watching videos on dodgy websites. For me, it’s like having the calm external demeanour of the Mona Lisa and internally rushing about like Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City on a fucking cocaine high! Maybe that’s why the Mona Lisa smiles esoterically…because her brains were fried as a result of not getting enough sleep. That’s my theory anyway!
So, one morning as I battled my way through my labyrinth of a living room towards my kitchen, something happened. I heard a voice. Not aloud; but a voice from within me. And it uttered something so clear, so simple and so true that I’ll never forget it!
“You don’t know how lucky you are!”
Usually, I mutter under my breath, drag my feet about, swear profusely for no reason at all, but at that moment I felt my heart stop and I took a moment to listen to the silence (well the sort-of silence we get in Egypt, because even though there’s a curfew and there should be quiet, the street-dogs outside still never seem to the shut the fuck up!).
And once I’d taken a moment, the only thing I could do was answer back.
The programme that had been running in the back of my mind paused, at last, as I bothered to look beyond myself for that one moment to see all of the things that I had been blessed with.
The truth is my emotional, mental and physical exhaustion isn’t on account of my waking up early, or as a result of age (pfff!), it’s because of my lack of gratitude. And I truly believe that’s the case for many of us.
I’m not trying to sound like a cheesy rip-off of a Paulo Coelho book here, but all I know is that since my realisation, I now wake up every morning and the first thing I say is ‘Thank you!’. I personally thank God for his blessings, but unlike the Egyptian government, I don’t assume everyone is religious so I’m not saying that’s what you have to do. However, I do think it’s incredibly important for the curbing of ego and the lessening of negativity, in general, to count your blessings, whether you are religious or not, whether you believe in God or not and whether everything is going great for you or not.
Look, I’m not saying that I don’t wake up tired anymore. I do! I wake up at 4 AM for goodness sake! But taking the time to be thankful, has worked far more wonders (dare I say it) than the daily morning cup of coffee that I ingest that might as well come with a syringe and a free entrance pass to rehab!
There’s a quote that I’ve been obsessed with recently, which captures the very realisation that I was divinely gifted with:
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”
I hope that’s food for thought everyone.