I am a fan of John Steinbeck. A Nobel Prize-winning American author, I love his writing style. The Grapes of Wrath would be an interesting read as we head for a recession, with speculation of another depression. However, one of my favourites of Steinbeck’s is Travels with Charley: In Search of America. I just finished a second reading.
It is a great story, and there are some gems to be found in this book; its status as a non-fiction has, however, been challenged for being a fictionalized account of the personal journey Steinbeck took in his later years – 1960, at the age of 62 – with his dog, Charley. Regardless, I’d like to share this one paragraph that resonated with me upon re-reading the book:
I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I’ve lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment.
Hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment. Amazing! It is the choices you make that determine your life, and you have to live with the consequence of those choices. This got me thinking, and on a kayak trip the other day it got me thinking about mornings. As I get older I find that the little aches and pains can be a rough start to the day. Add to this a hangover and/or a bad sleep due to poor habits, and the day is going to be harder to get control of.
If, however, mornings see you wake up feeling rested and without pain, the day is already off to a great start. The best mornings, I realized, start the night before. If you are drinking, then you will have a hangover; if not a hangover, at least a foggy wake-up and likely a less than perfect sleep. That’s okay – all things in moderation, right? In fact, vices, I believe, are not a bad thing. I love this quote by Abraham Lincoln;
“It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.”
Still, the best mornings start the night before. Are you going to drink? To excess? How about snacking? Why not fast after 7pm and wake with a healthy appetite after a good rest; a rest improved by not forcing the body to work on processing those late night snacks.
Reading before bed puts me into a very restful sleep. Usually it is timed nicely with the sun going down. If I do this, then I generally wake with the sun and no alarms are necessary. A good eight hours of fully restful sleep. Not something I was previously accustomed to. At least one positive to come from the pandemic and newly adopted routines.
Aches and pains? Yes, these need to be accepted, but these too can be dealt with. I stretch and workout in the mornings, but it takes a half hour of just simple movement to limber enough to do so. If I stretch the night before, maybe even use a little heat from a pad or bath, then I find I wake more or less ready to go. Drinking water helps, always. As does walking. (You are likely noticing a theme now in my posts – if I had to recommend any healthy habits to people, it will always start with walking – and planks, of course!)
And that’s it for this Sunday. My whimsical musings as we look to June. I plan on using my nights better to make my mornings as near perfect as possible, and in this way better own my day. A little focus on the choices I make to better the outcome of each of my days; and in this deliberate action ensure a better ability to enjoy life, achieve goals, and be present for the others I share my life with.
“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” – Jim Rohn
Run your day. Be deliberate in your choices. Know, and accept the consequences.