What gets you up in the morning?
Stop and think about that question.
Don’t take it literally and tell me your dog or your alarm or the baby’s cry, although all would be acceptable answers and certainly graded as correct. Many of us have been there. We know there’s nothing that will rouse an exhausted parent from a deep sleep quicker than a baby’s cry … or, far worse, the absence of a certain baby’s cry for a moment or the rest of your suddenly and painfully way-too-long life.
Something gets you out of bed in the morning, even after horrible things have happened in your life, or good things, or the surprisingly dreadful banality of mediocre things and a mediocre life. We are phenomenally resilient beings—you and me—this human race of ours.
I can never explain our steadfastness adequately, even as I observe it and marvel at it, but it exists as certainly as this shallow breath I take in this moment, the air moving in and out of my lungs without conscious effort by me, but effort nonetheless.
And something gets you up in the morning, even when it would make sense to stay in bed, covered up and warm and snuggly in what is often a dark and cold and painful world. Even if it would make sense to never venture out again, because life is often so sad and we would be totally justified—totally justified—if all we did was weep, our circles of sorrow rising
into the grey sky, the contrails of ache and agony and anger drifting from the chimneys of everyone’s lives and filling the sky with end-to-end clouds.
I don’t know. And I can no more answer for you than I can answer for my dog when I say, “Who’s a good boy?” and he looks at me with those big, buggy eyes like I am at the exact same moment the stupidest and kindest person on the face of the Earth.
I could be both, but I am likely neither, just another soul trying to find the path home, lost in the brambles and the briars, licking at my wounds when I should be looking at the map and figuring out where to go next instead of just picking this path or that one, following the warm sun and the pretty flowers until it is dusk again and there is need to find shelter and a blanket and a place to lay down my head because I cannot stay up all night, although on many nights my brain would like nothing better than to burn itself into oblivion.
But I do know this: I know what gets me up in the morning.
It is joy.
And not just joy.
Joy and an unabiding belief that joy is available, that it is present, that it exists and can be hugged tight like a baby fresh out of the bath, swaddled in soft towels and love.
And it is possible for all of us, no matter what has happened in our lives or our past, no matter our aches, our sorrows, our losses and our lingering loves.
And if we have joy, we can share it with others and help them to find joy, too. It is the Earth’s greatest renewing resource, capable of powering more than buildings or cities or counties or countries or continents.
Joy powers people.
Joy powers souls.
Joy powers lives.
There are no kilowatts that could ever compare.
I know this about joy like I know this tongue behind my teeth, or this heart beating in my chest: joy is possible.
Joy may need time and coaxing—and you may need time and coaxing—but it is there always, waiting for the cover to be pulled back, the legs to swing over the edge of the bed, and the act of rising to begin.
When we exit the bed in the morning, we rarely call it exiting the bed. We call it rising. We call it getting up. We call it alighting. And for good reason. The sun has risen and we bring ourselves from the horizontal to the vertical part of life, but it is more than that.
We climb up, physically and mentally, and prepare to take on another day, certain it will break our heart, but like dauntless soldiers, we are willing and eager to enter the fray. This is where we live—somewhere on the cusp between heartbreak and victory—fighting for love and glimpsing joy: a reflection here, a projection there. But she lights the way.
I’ve felt this joy. I feel it now. And something tells me perhaps you do, as well.
So, tomorrow morning, when you start to stir from your slumberings and you open your eyes, think about what gets you up in the morning and then go tackle the day. I’ll be doing the same, me and Joy.