At last count, scientists have described 413 different ways to start the day. The great variation is due to the many circumstances people find themselves in, as well as the personalities of the people themselves. In this column I will list only a few of the methods people employ to get underway each morning.
THE PERSON WITH A JOB. Many persons are employed, although today many others are not. If I am lucky enough to have a paying job and need the income, an effective way to get going each day is to picture myself living beneath a bridge with no food, no coffee, no TV and no cellphone.
In other words, none of life’s essentials. This will be my fate if I don’t stir my stumps. So I stir them.
THE WOMAN. Unlike men, most women care how they look. Whether they’re 18 or 80, they usually disapprove of their appearance when they wake up each day. Their initial move is to go into the bathroom, peer into the mirror, and groan, “Oh, God.” Then they begin to transform their faces, their bodies and their clothing.
The steps they often take to achieve this are too numerous to list. Whatever the result, these women deserve our applause and great credit for their efforts.
THE PERSON WITH SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN. The opening activity of such a person (let’s call her Lois) is screaming. She may begin softly, but as the little tykes fail to respond, Lois has no choice but to raise the volume and the threat level, “If you’re not up and moving in three minutes, I’ll feed you castor oil. Here, take a sniff of the bottle!” That often does the trick.
CURSING THE KITCHEN. The first action of thousands of Americans, usually single men, is to stagger into the kitchen to make coffee. Upon viewing the disgusting wreckage from last night’s TV or alcohol binge, the guy stands there and curses the dirty pots and pans, the dishware, the odors, himself, Jimmy Kimmel, his ex-wife, and anything else he can think of. This is not a good way to start the day. A better idea is to spend 10 minutes of cleanup duty the night before.
THE ATTACKING WARRIOR. As you roll out of bed each day, do you often feel as if fate, circumstance and people are against you, determined to cause you misery and make you fail? Of course you do. We all do. The reason: we are indeed at war with life. The solution: we fight back. As our feet hit the floor, we assume the attitude of the warrior, the soldier, and the knight who will not be defeated. As the day wears on, we view every problem and opponent as an enemy to be slaughtered. This technique for starting the day can be stimulating and helpful. Of course, it also can get you fired or put in jail.
THE PASSIVIST. This is the polar opposite to the attacking warrior. The passivist’s default attitude as he/she wakes up is “Whatever. Let it happen. What – me worry?” Passivists don’t exactly surrender to life; they just ignore it. They relax. They accept life and the universe in its entirety. They practice the philosophy of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick: “It is what it is.”
MEDITATION. This ancient practice usually requires a person to sit quietly for two or 20 minutes, chant “Ommm” or “Punxsutawney,” and – if possible – stay awake. During this time the blood starts to circulate.
Nighttime dreams fade. Yesterday’s stock market quotes return. The lyrics to “Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie” enter your mind. If these things happen to you while you meditate, you’re doing it wrong. You should start over. But at least you’ve got your day underway. Sort of.
PRAYER. Even if you’re not religious in the conventional sense, prayer is an excellent thing to do as each day begins.
You can pray to whomever or whatever you wish – God, fate, the universe, Ted Cruz, Buddha, Deepok Chopra, the spirit of your dead spaniel, or your IRS adjuster. I know at least one man (an avowed agnostic) whose morning prayer is “Baby Jesus, stick with me.” (He says he does this “just in case.”) I’ve heard that the most effective prayers are those that ask for the petitioner’s mind and outlook to be altered, rather than for the world to be changed.
TUNE IN TO MORNING TV TALKS SHOW. After 10 minutes of watching peppy, cheerful panelists chuckling and interrupting each other, you’ll either be bored silly or consumed with rage that such consummate rubbish is allowed to pollute America’s homes. But at least you’ll have begun your day.
Bob Driver is a former columnist for the Clearwater Sun.