I swing my legs out of bed without sitting up. The rest of my body follows reluctantly. I do my best to slink out of the room without waking up Luke or stepping on the cat. I grab the pile of clothes laid out the night before, dress and head out the door by 5:30. The full extent of Mother Nature’s fickle mood hits me square in the face as I stride out into the predawn world. My body is stiff, my breathing labored and my imagination runs a little wild until my system adjusts.
After a few blocks, everything settles into place and I start to notice the world around me. Small critters dart out of my path (or into my path, if we’re talking about Teddy Grahams, the friendly neighborhood cat). The moon and stars shine overhead. The damn street light that turns off every damn time I pass beneath it. There aren’t many people out at this hour, but I tend to see the same runners and dog walkers at roughly the same spots nearly every day. It’s comforting to share this routine with familiar strangers.
After months of solid darkness, I started to notice a new development just this week: a strip of light blue on the horizon at the start of my run. It grows wider as I go. Once I reach the north shore of Lake Nokomis, the sky is a gradient of blue to white with a trace of pink bursting out of the tree line on the other side. On still mornings, the water is a pane of glass reflecting its mirror image. I could be upside down or right side up at this very moment and not know the difference.
The birds are suddenly rowdier, filling the budding trees with sound and activity. The ducks in the creek have no regard for the hour of the day and call to each other relentlessly. The wind, once sharp, is now softer and smells like grass, dirt and humidity.
Suddenly, my morning runs are more than just physically rewarding. My soul gets in on the game now, too. In fact, it’s the best hour of my day because It’s All Mine. My head is uncluttered and my thoughts are clear and creative. My eyes are sharp and aware of the small details surrounding me. And I have very few problems that can’t be back burnered by the sight of the rising sun. I always pause midway near a big willow tree to give myself a few minutes to take it all in. Later on, when I get stressed out by some office triviality, I remind myself of that big sky and the promise it held for the new day ahead.
After my hour outside, I return home to hot coffee, warm oatmeal and a few pages of a new magazine before getting into the shower where coconut-scented toiletries await me. Sometimes my contacts will go in on the first try. Sometimes I don’t cut my knees with the razor. Sometimes my front cowlick lays down flat without hairspray. Sometimes, I can get ready in record time and catch the bus I swore I was going to miss.
Little miracles happen each and every day. You just have to be awake to see them.