Early birds and late bloomers

Today, I wish I had woken up early.

I have a plane to catch, an event to go to and several meetings to finish. My mind is cluttered, and I am anxious at the thought of having to finish all that I have to today given the time I have at my disposal. I do not like this feeling but really, often, I find myself stumbling into it at every turn.

My dad is the most organized and disciplined man I know. I never see him rushing because he does things way ahead of time. The night before a trip he lounges, reading the papers or watching the news, enjoying dinner at a gentleman’s pace, taking his sweet time. My mom and I, on the other hand, would be scrambling all over the place, getting this or that done at the very last minute. By the time we are finally done, we are frazzled and exhausted. But not Daddy. In his world his bag will be all packed and ready to go days before the trip. He never misses a flight because even before he leaves the house he affords enough travel time plus allowance for traffic all factored in and thus is able to check in very early. This brand of discipline is not selective, by the way; as a matter of fact it translates into all other areas of his life. In short, it is a lifestyle. He drinks enough water each day and is very disciplined with his diet and fitness regimen of golf-walking-light weights and push-ups so that he looks much younger than his 72 years. Daddy sleeps early and wakes up early and, maybe because he is hardly frazzled, he only has a sprinkling of white on his still predominantly black hair. He has never dyed his hair yet, just his beard.

I, on the other hand, thrive on a moment-by-moment timeline. Despite my best intentions, I have yet to experience lounging in a state of total calm the night before a long trip. More often than not even as the plane takes off I am going through a mental list, thinking of what I may have forgotten to pack or do or leave instructions for.

But then, blissfully, thankfully, something short of magical happens as the plane pulls up from the runway. I look out my window and as buildings and vast pieces of land become mere dots in the fading landscape, so do I feel how much of a speck I really am in the grand scheme of things. It is liberating. Always, during those moments, I get a sense that if I do not get to do this or that today, the world will not fall apart. Life will go on as usual, maybe with a little inconvenience here, some knots there, but always, things will have a way of falling where it should, in God’s perfect time. And for that hour or two of bliss up in the air I am free. There is nothing I must immediately do, there is nothing I can immediately do that will make a difference literally, not until after the plane lands and I go back to tangible reality. In my little seat with the whirr of the plane and occasional pocket of turbulence as constant companion, I am blessed with a stretch of quiet time. Ah, the greatness of doing nothing! The modern times try to deprive us of that at every turn. I do one or two of many things — I close my eyes and let my thoughts wander where they may, I read a book, or I make slow notes in my notebook. Sometimes I even doodle the way I did endlessly when I was in high school, making telebabad on the phone with a girlfriend. And when it is Cebu Pacific I am taking, always I eat even when I am not hungry because the food is good. They have my favorite Chippy, good hot chocolate, yummy ham and cheese croissant and tuna turnover that reminds me of my college days in Cebu. They also have Cup Noodles and even when you do not want to, when the person seated behind starts slurping from his cup you surrender to temptation because it just smells too good and you know it will taste even better.

Anyway. Even as I accept who I am and this quirk of working best under pressure, still I wonder what life is like for people like Daddy, or my sister Caren where everything is in order. I would love to be a morning person, too, something I get to be on two occasions: when I have jet lag and when I have work. Make that three, if you count when I was a very new breastfeeding mom 11 years ago.

But it’s never too late, is it? There is still ample time to change my ways. In my dreams I wake up to yellow sunshine bouncing against our white walls and making radiant figures on the wooden floors. I will eat, and never tire of, the same breakfast: scrambled eggs, bacon cooked to that stage when it is just about to get crisp, its melted fat poured over a cup of white rice, a glass of freshly squeezed pineapple juice (we have the sweetest pineapples in Ormoc and I always bring back some here in Manila). Okay, I will probably rotate that combination with bottled daing flakes made by TitaCarmel, scrambled eggs with tomatoes, and rice. That should set me off to a very happy day, every day. I almost forgot, there has to be pancakes somewhere there too. I love pancakes. I always will.

After breakfast I will putter around the house and do domestic chores which I love doing. When I have more time still I will work with my hands and create many lovely things from the materials I have kept in labeled boxes. And always, I will wrap a gift or write a note on beautiful paper that I will have delivered or sent by mail — no matter how small, no matter how ordinary the day. There will always be someone to give it to, something to be grateful about.

That, in a nutshell, will make up the happy mornings that I dream of experiencing.

Now, if only I can train myself to sleep, and wake up, early.


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