Opinion

Thursday 14 November 2019

Working it out: It took a while for it to dawn on me

Like Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider, John Masterson likes to get out on his Harley
Like Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider, John Masterson likes to get out on his Harley

Joe Masterson

Benjamin Franklin is usually credited with the advice "early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise." He was around in the 1700s, about a hundred years before Edison invented the electric light bulb, about two hundred before television started keeping us up late, and a time when the main purpose of a candle was to illuminate rather than provide an atmosphere conducive to seduction. It is a bit harder to go to bed early today than it was in Fanklin's time. But ask yourself what have you watched late on TV in the last while that was worth staying up for. These days you can watch anything you want to see when and where you want to.

Because I have become a great advocate of getting up early, particularly from April to October I have seen nothing late on TV in real time for ages apart from The Masters. I am no wealthier or wiser, but I am definitely happier that I have restructured my day, and maybe even a tincture healthier. I certainly feel great. I don't even set an alarm. I just wake up with the birdsong and am usually settled, often outdoors, with my cup of coffee as the day begins. And it is a world that far too many people do not experience and enjoy.

This is a time of the day to take things slowly and without any of the intrusions of business hours. No one will ring you so you don't even need to have your phone at your side. You can treat the internet as if it does not exist for an hour. There is space to think, and to feel, and they are both things that have been increasingly squeezed out of daily life. Sometimes I browse though clippings that I have taken from newspapers and have the time to read them properly rather than skim. I might read a chapter of a book, make a few plans, or go for a walk. Or I might do nothing.

I get in to work at KCLR96FM in Kilkenny at 7.30am to get myself organised for my daily radio programme. By the time I jump in the car, or on the Harley on blue sky days, I am bursting to go. The farmers are already milking. They never got out of the early morning habit. Lots of people have never watched the light change and the activity of the wildlife as the sun rises. They may not have noticed the housemartins returning. Each day begins and we have made one more revolution and another small step in our giant circle around the sun on this small insignificant rock that we have the pleasure of inhabiting. It is a good time of the day to feel humble, and part of something far greater than any of us are. Humans have been watching the sunrise for a relatively short portion of the life of the Earth. Given that the sun has at least a billions years of life left in it our descendants will be doing it for a lot longer if we manage not to destroy our planet through selfishness and stupidity.

I suspect our forbears got up with the dawn and did a good day's hunting before crashing at dusk. It still works.

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