Sunday, 26 February 2017

Waking Up - A Ramble About Alarm Clocks, Stories, And Rejoicing.

57. Alarm Clock: Write about waking up.

Today I Love You - Salford Quays, not waking up

I hate waking up.  Another day to barely survive.  Another sixteen hours of anxiously hoping the day won't be my last.  Another sixteen days of hoping it will be.

I love waking up.  Another day to explore.  Another sixteen hours of curiosity, surprises, possibilities.  Another sixteen hours to spend loving, smiling, and living in gratitude for all I am, all I have, and for the people I share this world with.

I hate waking up.  Body aching from the night, the discomfort of lying in the wrong position and knowing that this particular body doesn't have a right position.  Legs swearing under their breath.  Back swearing out loud.  And sometimes arm screaming about having had to lie at the bottom.  This morning is one of those mornings.

I love waking up.  A chance to stretch.  Body and mind.  A time to remember that there is freedom in the pain.

This week I haven't had to set my alarm clocks.  Two of them.  Because I can sleep through the first and it is a sentient beast with a will of its own.  Sometimes its will is to not call out its chimes at all.  Sometimes its will is to make an attempt at rousing the entire city.  It's been like that for several years and, regularly, I think of replacing it.  It needs replacing.  Urgently.  It's housed in an old Roberts CD player stroke radio stroke alarm clock.  And that would be a lovely thing to own.  Except it buzzes.  When electricity passes through it, as it needs to, it buzzes.  Sometimes the noise of it is too much for me and I unplug it.  Other times it is too much for me but I lack the executive function to unplug it and I lie in bed listening to the hum underneath the sound of the radio.  Every time I am disturbed by the noise, or by the lack of a needed noise in the morning, I decide that I'm going to buy a replacement.  Every time I make my decision I lack the ability to bring it through to the point at which I have a bright and shiny new machine to unwrap, plug in, and be pleased about.

My second alarm, which I brought into my life after failing to get up at the right time too often, is on my phone.  It's a lovely alarm.  Well, not quite lovely.  The sound of it is one I would much prefer not to hear.  I wouldn't put it on repeat and play it for an hour of sweet relaxation.  But it's reliable.  I set it.  It obeys my instructions.  I can trust my telephone to chime for me exactly when I want.  And it will be exactly too.  It keeps perfect time.  I know.  I've watched it.  More often than I care to admit.  I've listened to the pips on Radio Four, chiming the hour.  And observed with a rush of happiness that my phone changes to the new hour exactly in time with the final pip.  Not so my first alarm clock.  That runs fast.  I don't have the executive function to set it right as often as I would like.  It would only take a minute to adjust it.  To at least get it right to within a minute.  As it stands it's more than two minutes fast.

I tell myself, "Why not just unplug the thing?"  Yes.  Unplug it.  Don't use it.  Unless I want to play a CD in my bedroom.  The illuminated time has become more of a curse than a blessing.  I used to love it.  Being able to open my eyes if I woke in the night and see the time.  I still find it excruciatingly difficult not to know what the time is if I wake.  Is it worth me getting up?  Is it worth trying to go back to sleep?  And how long have I lain there anyway and is a middle of the night cup of tea going to be needed?  Important questions.  But the bright light of the time is burdensome too and I tell myself I only need to press one button on my phone to see what unearthly, ungodly hour I am witnessing.  Unplug the infernal machine with it's brightness, buzzing, unreliability.  Use the radio on my telephone.  Use its faithful alarm.  Or set two alarms.

That's sensible.  At least I think it is.  The cube shaped machine remains.  Lit up.  Buzzing.  Annoying me every time it fails in its one tiny alarm clock function.  Does everyone have the same issue, that three years after observing problems they won't have done anything about them?  It's not as if it's a complicated problem or something blatantly difficult or life changing.  We're not talking about noticing climate change, the plight of refugees or even having to tread carefully due to the increasing holes in ones bedroom floor.  That's something else.  I'm not admitting to those holes or to the fact that I haven't done anything about them.  Is everyone like that?

As I said, I haven't set the alarms this week.  I have been in the envious position of being able to sleep beyond six thirty.  In theory.  It hasn't worked.  In the absence of knowing there are alarms to look forward too my brain and body have come up with a wide range of plans.  Monday's plan was to wake up at four and stay awake.  That was the start of a day on which I shut down on a bench in a city centre.

Today the plan was to wake up at five and stay awake.  It's not the plan I would have consciously chosen.  It's currently six fifty four and through the window I've been watching daylight spread.  The sky above is filled with dark clouds but away to the east, through the gap between houses I can see a strip of blue that is, at this very moment, exactly the colour of my cot blanket.  Above it the clouds are bright, slowly fading into dull greys.  Through the bright cloud I have watched as a plethora of pinks and reds were created by the rising sun.  At six fifty six they are all but gone and the day has truly begun, leaving the tree silhouetted before the dark sky.

There are advantages to being awake before I want to be awake.  At four, five in the morning there is a deep peace still over the city.  It is a time to be still, to meditate, to write in calm before responsibility and worry creeps over a life.  I am not wise.  Mostly I use the time to fret, to complain about the injustice of being awake when I don't want to be.  Mostly I lie there hoping to sleep some more, trying to will sleep, and I end up further away from sleep than I was at the beginning.  Mostly I take this gift of extra time, this blessing of quietness, and I turn it round into something to winge about.  This morning I can be pleased about the five hours I slept.  Pleased that I wake with most of my faculties intact.  Pleased that it's just gone seven and I've seen a beautiful sky, heard the news, engaged with social media, and written this post.

I may write it again later.  While writing an idea formed.  A story.  Perhaps later today I will allow it to tell itself.  Stories need to tell themselves.  They are alive, vibrant, and though this blog has included more stories than I would have imagined at the beginning of the year, it's almost the case that I haven't written any of them.  They appeared in my mind.  I just allowed them to grow and be released.  Two dozen stories in two months.  I have been surprised by all of them.  I did not know about Oxford Brookes, Miranda, or anyone else I've written about.  They knew themselves.  All I did was to let them speak.  And that, I find, is much more satisfying than what I've done this morning in writing about my own life.

It's ten past seven on a Friday morning.  I think that's a good time to stop.  Eat breakfast.  And then to return and write a fiction which will ramble less than this post has.  The day is young.  It makes no promises to me beyond coming to an end.  How I choose to fill the intervening hours is largely up to me.  I am very fortunate in that.  There is nowhere I have to be.  Nothing I have to to.  I realise that a week today I will be performing a poem or a short story to a crowded room of people at a public event.  For the first time ever.  For this, I have faith in myself.   I believe it will be the first time of many.

And now?  Breakfast and an unknown day.  The clouds are clearing.  Birds are singing.  And the day is beautiful.  Whether I shine all day or whether I shut down on another city centre bench it will remain beautiful.  And so I say with the old hymn, "Let us rejoice and be glad in it."

[1538 words]

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