Take your coffee in the uncanny valley

I finished my copy edits. I am still tired from it. I forgot today was Wednesday. I’m trying to create (or rather, salvage) a decent morning writing routine; for months, I’ve been idling through the early hours, drinking coffee and reading the news, which made a certain kind of sense in the lead up to the election (did it?) but now does not feel like it’s helping anyone. I can read the news later.

For years, I wrote for at least an hour every morning, before doing anything but checking my email. I’ve probably talked about this here before, because I was proud of it, how well it worked. You can get a lot done in an hour. Back then, I had a day job, and I needed that hour to come at a specific time if I was going to do anything with a fresh mind. Now that my days are open, I write more, but with a less specific focus, and I miss the precision of mind that came from sitting down and knowing This is the moment.

My compulsion to routinize everything comes, in large part, out of that old hour of writing. (Also, perhaps, my neurochemistry.) Planning that hour worked so well, I started to plan everything: the hour when I would exercise, every day, the days of the week when I’d do laundry or vacuum the floors. None of which sounds bad, since it’s all stuff that needs to get done, but my commitment to what is ultimately an arbitrary schedule does make for a less flexible life. And the pleasure of the writing hour was that it inviting creativity, a certain turn of mind, which isn’t quite as necessary for the completion of chores or my time on the exercise bike.

Perhaps the pool of time a person wallows in during their callow youth is not something that is meant to return; perhaps that’s not possible. But I do sometimes wonder if I’m tricking myself out of something. I’ve taught my garden to expect water in the morning; without it, the plants wilt. Leaving things undone, when they could be done, makes me feel similarly.

The trick is, a garden being watered is being bathed in something necessary for life, cool and refreshing. Which is why, despite all this protest about over-scheduling my brain, I want to return to my morning hours, reclaim them from the pleasing sloth I’ve lately indulged. There is such a thing as too much structure. But there are also different kinds. The sun rises and falls predictably, and from that, the whole world wakes up.

Which is, as a sentiment, perhaps too sweet, but also true. So, good morning.