There’s some debate in my house about what it means to be a morning person. I contend that rising easily at an early hour – like seven a.m. – qualifies one for the club. To me, it’s about whether you like getting up and function well before the necessities of the day take over.
My husband, on the other hand, believes morning people watch the sunrise with their coffee already made and most of the daily news consumed. He likes to rise around 5:30 and considers me a sloth.
There’s definitely a different quality to the hour before dawn than the one that follows. The stillness envelopes you with peace, the darkness reminds you of the night that just passed, the solitude embraces you like a dear friend that doesn’t need to say a word.
In the twenty-first century, ordering our day by the sun seems almost as archaic as arranging our urban school year to accommodate the needs of farmers. Yet our circadian rhythms seem to be hardwired; many people who work nights have to counteract their reverse schedules with sun lamps and white noise. They have trick their bodies into thinking everything is fine when they rise in the afternoon or early evening and head to work while most of us are heading to bed. Their shift ends as the sun rises and they sleep in broad daylight. And then there are the times we party until the sun comes up. Exuberant and often drunk, we celebrate the sunrise with an entirely different perspective than the runner or the morning shift worker who anticipate the new day.
Sunrise may be one of the most photographed, reported, analyzed daily phenomenons. Poets have filled pages of pronouncements upon the new day, photographers have filmed countless daybreaks and in our electronic age every sunrise gets a daily timestamp from meteorologists. We expect it, need it, even if we sleep through it. Even our endless postindustrial twenty-four hour day has to start somewhere, so why not the quiet moments of darkness giving way to light?