Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Walking at Sunrise

For the last week, I've been inspired to wake up early and see the sunrise. It's a good thing that the sun rises at 7:20am at this time of the year, because otherwise it would have been a herculean task to go from my previous 9am wake up to anything earlier than 7:20am.

I guess the motivation came on December 31st when I was randomly thinking about living in the time before electricity. Of course there are many reasons why life is better now, but I found myself envious of the fact that most people in that time period woke up early and typically saw both sunset and the sunrise.

I suddenly felt that I was missing out on a lot. Only on days of an early flight or early airport drop-off, have I seen the sun rise. That's almost 30 years of missed beauty - each day there's a spectacular show (free, btw) and I've almost never been awake to see it.

On Jan 1st, I decided to wake up early for a walk around the track near my house and see what the sunrise was all about. I wouldn't call it a New Year's resolution but it's something that I wanted to try out and decided I would do it until I didn't want to do it anymore.

The first sunrise exceeded my expectations and now each morning I'm excited to do it. It's tough waking up, especially since it's dark outside when the alarm goes off and the weather lady tells you how cold it is (although it's been warm recently). The temperature isn't too bad if you dress like you're going skiing and wear lots of layers (a woman was actually wearing ski goggles at the track last week and had to laugh to myself...but if it gets here out there it doesn't matter, right?). On tough days I've had to invoke the "Winners wake up early" mantra to get myself out there, but am instantly happy when I step out the door. I find my walking time to be unique because it's an interesting mix of totally random thoughts, new ideas, appreciation for nature/life, and focused intention on what I'm going to do that day.

I don't wear a watch and just keep walking until I don't want to walk anymore, which is usually around 45 minutes. I thought briefly that I should use the opportunity to jog, but I quickly realized that I would end up not enjoying it. If I jogged, I would be so focused on running and pushing myself that I wouldn't have that time for reflection, appreciation, and thinking.

The key is to get there about 10-15 minutes before the sun rises so you can get the full show of colors and cloud patterns just before the sun peeks over the horizon. Aside from a few birds chirping, it's pretty quiet out there.When I get back to my house, I eat a bowl of cereal and drink a cup of tea; as I sit down to work I'm much more focused and clear-headed.

I think I'll continue to do my sunrise walk for a while because it definitely makes me feel more focused and happier. I feel lucky that I came upon this great secret that must have been forgotten from the days without electricity. It's been a bit tough to force myself to get to bed earlier, but since the sunrise will gradually get earlier by a few minutes each day, I should be able to gradually make that change over time. Imagine how productive I'll be if I wake up at 5:30am!

  • What do you do to help yourself focus?
  • What activities elevate your energy or appreciation throughout the day?


Stacy said...

Lee, you're so awesome! I think I am currently using coffee to find energy during the day :) I do find that getting in exercise always helps make me more productive and feel better about myself during the day.

foo said...

what a great thing to do!