The tea cup warms my hands as I sink back into the leather recliner and snuggle my feet under a fleece blanket. The only light comes from the lava lamp on the mantel and the faint glow of the skyscrapers across the way.
There are no sounds at all.
Branches make a sumi painting of shadows against the wall outside. Empty chairs stand guard behind the patio railing, keeping the world at bay.
For this hour or two around sunrise, I can rest.
In sleep, my mind continues to work even though I’m unaware. Sometimes I catch myself, when I wake up in the middle of a thought, and it’s hard to make my brain stop thinking.
In the quiet hours, I can sink into calm with mindfulness.
Tom is still asleep. The city is still in its nighttime lull. No one will call me and no colleagues expect to hear from me yet.
These are the hours when I can sit with my own thoughts and feelings, let them rise of their own accord and then drift away.
It is easier, in this quiet time, to see life as a flowing progression, rather than the jagged bits that tear at me all day long.
I can look far into the mental distance as though floating in outer space. I put that perspective into my cell memory, a touchstone of peace.
Sometimes I write. This is a time to reflect on the previous day, make sense of it.
Sometimes I plan the day ahead. Without distractions, I can remind myself of what I want to prioritize – health, relationships, spirit, beauty.
For most of my life, I was not a morning person. Getting up early for my first newspaper job, with a 7 a.m. commute, was pure torture.
It’s only since we moved to North Georgia that I learned to enjoy the morning. Dawn in the mountains woke in me a kinship with all that has ever been.
After several years of practice, I now relish the quiet hours no matter where I am. Condo or home or hotel, this is the time to restore myself.
In the city, the light starts to change around 7:20 a.m. Subtle shading, a whisper of color, creep onto the patio.
A few minutes later, the first bird chirps. By 7:35, pink tints the edge of the sky.
I can still sit, but my mind has set to work. It’s OK now. I can do it.
Today’s penny is a 2013, when I first made a habit of getting up before dawn.