Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Small Hours

This is getting to be something of an annoying habit. I am not a morning person, yet here I am in front of my computer at 6 a.m. once again. I don’t really want to write, but apparently I need to. Actually, I know I need to… I always need to, but there is usually something specific looming. It could be an essay for a class, a term paper, a column, and of course there is always a deadline breathing down my neck. That kind of writing goes with the territory - that’s what I do and some of it I get paid for.

But none of that, or at least the vast majority of it, requires that I wake up before the sun rises. Even the news doesn’t usually happen this early… if I’m reporting and writing at this hour, it’s because the story is not finished from last night. Those covering last month's fires in Southern California were up reporting, shooting and writing at this hour not as the start of a new day, but the as the continuation of yesterday or, perhaps, the day before. Although I have only briefly experienced that kind of reporting, I know enough to know that I wouldn’t be complaining - that’s the stuff I live for.

But not this. This is an urgency of a much different kind. There is nothing exciting about it. Insightful? Sure. Introspective? Absolutely. Will I be proud of the output? Experience tells me so - the proverbial “creative juices” are definitely flowing. I just wish they would decide to secrete at a more reasonable hour. Sometimes. But perhaps this is how I am wired - not a morning person but still one who gets the call from… somewhere in the small hours of the morning. Today I didn’t resist - much. I’ve only been fighting it for about an hour. A couple of days ago, I was not so compliant. I didn’t give up - I stayed in bed. But I didn’t get to go back to sleep either.

The irony is that I do have some very pressing matters to get done. There are three assignments due in three of my four classes on Monday morning. None are particularly difficult, but all require some time to produce the kind of output I desire. I was up late last night writing the first of those assignments, a three to five page essay on St. Thomas Aquinas and his idea of “natural law.” It’s pretty deep stuff, but the assignment is too short to go into very much depth. The professor is looking for understanding of Aquinas and his philosophy - not groundbreaking analysis that will lead to a new theory of the nature of God. I can handle it - and finished about two thirds of it about four or five hours ago.

The other two are really not much effort for me, but both will require a little time to do the reading, research and write. As usual, I have left myself just enough time to complete them. Actually, if I have a 24-hour clock, there is more than enough time to finish. There are only a handful of assignments left between my bachelor’s degree and me. I can almost… almost coast through it. But there is still just enough rope to hang myself. I can still, even after the hours upon hours, month in and month out and year after year of not only doing the work but doing it exceedingly well - I can still screw it up. It is, or was, my MO, after all.

Fortunately, there is every reason to believe it will be different this time. Self-destruction wasn’t my only modus operandi, there were others and to say that everything is different now would be an understatement. The things I have done to get here represent major operation changes in not only how I do things (or that I do them), but also how I view life in general. As a result, I have been running this “lucky” streak for more than three years - even longer depending on one’s point of view. And to a large extent, it is this outlook that has made the difference. Even if the exact same idiot cuts me off in traffic today, I do not have to take it personally and it doesn’t have to ruin an otherwise perfect day. It really is that simple. As far as I’m concerned - it’s worth an occasional early morning or some restless nights.


kenju said...

Whatever happened to cause you to change your MO, or what now motivates you do do well - for that we are thankful - and I know that you are too. I have no doubt that you will be a success from here on out, Mike.

mckay said...

1- you write in the wee hours because you are an artist and must create must.

2-i doubt it's a lucky streak. it's just the mature you in action.

Snaggle Tooth said...

All the years I had to get up by 6am, made me want the night job, so now I want the day-job back, just to stop sleeping throught the daylight!

Anytime you want to write, is a good thing!
Worrying about it usually indicates you won't allow it to happen-