Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October 3rd, 2007

The Courage of the Early Morning is the name of the biography of World War I flying ace Billy Bishop that was written by his son. It refers to the characteristics needed to get up in the dark and cold and risk your life after too little sleep. It’s also a phrase that I like to apply to going out for a morning run in the damp and darkness of fall and winter.

Admittedly, I am not facing planes that are waiting with machine guns to knock me down, although in the dark, cars and half-awake drivers aren’t a bad substitute sometimes. Still, I like to think there’s the same sense of going against the inclinations of comfort in order to do something difficult. And, if I’m honest, there’s also a sense of perverse satisfaction in believing that I’m the sort of person who wouldn’t make a completely hedonistic choice.

This bit of self-dramatization (because that’s what it is) dates back to my days of playing soccer and rugby when I was growing up. When going to practice or play and hearing someone voice a variation of “Sooner you than me,” I used to like to think that I was tough enough not to let bad weather discourage me. Of course, in reality, I had all the toughness of boiled spinach, but adolescents do need some shred of self-assurance to cling to. And, rather than admit myself a hypocrite, after the first tackle that left me sliding through the mud, I soon found myself taking a grim satisfaction in my ability to adapt to a condition that others still shied away from. It was a good way to score, too, because those who weren’t muddy themselves would often avoid me as someone who was slightly crazed.

Something of that same insanity persists in me to this day. When I leave the warmth of the bed and stumble outside into the wet and cold of autumn, I reflect that hundreds of people around me wouldn’t consider doing what I am, and then I don’t feel so miserable. Except on the coldest days of the year, the satisfaction lingers enough for me to fall into a rhythm and to warm myself with the exertion, so that the misery I’ve walled away disappears.

I suppose that something of the same train of thought drives people who take up dangerous sports or take chances. By comparision, my courage of the early morning is a very minor strain of the attitude at best. But middle-age, I find, needs its illusions as much as adolescence, and if it gets me out the door each morning, this is one to which I’ll cling.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »