Somewhere in the groggy mist between sleep and consciousness I hear a weird, distant sound. At first I think I’m in a strange dream, and then as the mist fades I realize it’s the piano melody of Vince Guaraldi, the song is O Tannenbaum from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
Yes, this probably sounds like a strange choice for wake-up call music, but I don’t care. This is the smooth, calming tune I’ve chosen; Christmas being one of my favorite seasons, I have this unavoidable notion that it’s a good thing to wake up to.
So, once I hear this, I mosey on out of bed over across the room to grab my phone. I’ve given up on using my traditional alarm clock; by default I just slap that long flat snooze button that I’ll be talking about in a minute. Instead I’ve been using the Alarmy Pro app on my phone, one of the only apps I’ve felt the need to pay for. There is a setting in this app to include snooze, but I don’t use it. I think by doing this that I’ve defeated the snooze option once and for all, that by removing it I have hereby defeated one of my most formidable foes.
I’ve written about the snooze button briefly before and about my efforts with morning habits, but I wanted to take a deeper dive here into what I’m really getting at when I talk about snooze and how it ties in with creativity and goals and procrastination.
With this phone app, I’ve set it so that I have to leave the room and move to another part of the house, then take a photo of some inanimate object (I’ve tried a light switch and the bathroom sink) so that it matches a photo of that same object I already took and saved within the app. It’s a matching game, essentially.
I need to do this so that the alarm fully shuts off (you can briefly silence the alarm while you do this, but it won’t shut off until you’ve completed this weird little morning mission). If you don’t want to do the photo trick, you can set it so that you have to answer several math problems in a row before the thing shuts off. Or you can just vigorously shake the phone until you hit yourself in the face (a fantastic way to start the day, I assure you) or the alarm shuts off.
I’ve tried all of these settings, and by using such a trick, I’m basically trying to get my conscious mind moving so that I wake to a level of not wanting to, or needing to, go back to sleep.
Yeah — um, no.
My inner resistance against rising early and staying risen is such that in that groggy zombie-like walk to finish this turn-off-the-alarm process, I’ll find a way to just hurry through it and then I’ll scurry back to bed and get back under the covers, then manually re-set the time for the alarm for another time 10 or 20 minutes later.
Let me lay that out again: I’ve created my own snooze option without even using the snooze button.
But here’s the thing about the snooze button. It’s a little truth I’ve learned through all of this. The snooze button isn’t really a button. No, no. Not a button at all. The snooze button is a mirror.
Bear with me here.
When I hit the snooze, or do my strange little self-created snooze workaround process in the morning, what I’m really doing is avoiding myself, what I need to and most want to accomplish for me to be the best version of myself.
Hitting the snooze at all will reportedly screw up one’s sleep cycle, but for me, it’s more than just that. By succumbing to the snooze, I’m telling myself that I’m not willing to be uncomfortable to get up and run or workout or write or read or meditate. These are the things I need to be doing on a daily basis (some of them I intentionally don’t do in the morning) to keep that deep-down hum moving along. While the snooze button prevents all of this from happening, I’m the one who actually puts up this wall, not the snooze. The snooze is just the form of my fear taking shape.
There are lots of ways to avoid the snooze and to get up early (and for me the ideal time is somewhere in the 4:30-5 a.m. range, when everyone else is still asleep…this, however, rarely happens). One thing I’ve tried that has seen success, and I need to try this again, is following the morning process recommended by Hal Elrod (author of The Miracle Morning). This is a book I need to read over and over, because it’s one of the few things I’ve seen actually work when I’ve tried morning routines. And I realize, too, that even if I’ve had a staggered few hours of sleep (which, as a parent, is usually the case), it’s still better to just stay up rather than sleep in for a few extra minutes of false comfort. Still, this is insanely difficult at times.
To reiterate, the ugly truth about the snooze button remains: by snoozing in, I’m avoiding myself. I’m putting off what my soul is calling for so that my conscious mind and inner-resistance can be comfortable for an extra few minutes. But this is not a battle I’m planning to lose. I feel an incessant need and urge to rise early.
Because books, blog posts, stories — they don’t write themselves. Miles don’t run themselves. For me, a lot of this efforts needs to happen in the morning, or it won’t happen. And there is a trickle effect here — if I even start a small amount of effort in the morning, it will have an effect throughout the day. But the reality is that these things don’t get accomplished when they’re put second in line to an extra nine or 10 or 30 minutes of false sleep.
David Goggins, Navy Seal and Endurance Athlete, says it well:
— David Goggins (@davidgoggins) January 9, 2017
Adding to that, there is something in experiencing the sunrise at dawn that awakens the soul and fills one with some kind of weird light. It’s a self-feeding that is like nothing else. And it’s worth it.
And so yes, time to get moving.
The battle against the snooze continues.