I own mornings. I wake up most of the time somewhere between 5 and 5:30 a.m. This time of the year, in this part of the country, it might as well still be night. There’s something ominous about the black winter mornings of the northeast, the wind whipping and bending the wire window screens, hissing across the snow, sometimes cold enough to yank the breath right out of your chest. It makes it hard to leave my bed – and that’s exactly why I do it.
I get up, click on the electric kettle and wait for its hiss to drown out the wind. Coffee time. The beans are ground. The Aeropress is primed and plunged, and just like that, the ugliness of another winter morning is swept away before dawn breaks. I drink my coffee, write in my five-minute journal, and then do no greater and no fewer than two pages of free writing on whatever topic comes to mind.
Always two pages. Always in a black Moleskine ruled notebook. Always with a Tactile Turn Shaker aluminum pen which always has a pilot G-2 extra fine cartridge inside. The ink is always black.
Then the real fun begins. My workout always has to be done before the sun is up.
If I haven’t written this on this blog before, then here it is: The two words I avoid most are always and never. I just used the word always eight times.
My entire life, I’ve put a high value on consistency. It’s mostly because I’m not that great at anything, athletic or otherwise. But I found out early that I could beat pretty much anybody at being consistent. Being consistent is one of the highest standards to which I can hold myself. So I do it. Consistently.
This is the time of year when consistency’s mortality rate is highest. The cold weeks following New Year’s are when good intentions freeze to death. What keeps my feet moving is owning the morning -- every morning, but especially Wednesdays.
Wednesday mornings are for Jiu Jitsu at dawn. The class starts at 7 a.m., which this Wednesday will be about twenty minutes before sunrise. I’m usually the lowest man on the totem pole on Wednesday mornings, so the bone crushing begins immediately and doesn’t let up for the full hour.
Before the academy windows fog over, between those early drills, I’ll catch the sun rising out of the corner of my eye. The dreaming suburb begins to stir. Eventually, daylight hits the window, overpowering the academy’s fluorescents. On clear mornings, orange dawn spills across the blue mats. I smile at this and work my game that much harder.