Things to Avoid: Alarums

Something that I have tried to avoid all of my life is alarm clocks, by which I mean any device–human or mechanical–that awakens me before I am ready to be awakened.  I am quite simply not a morning person, and I never have been.  Except for the years in which I was attending school and therefore required to often awake before I was ready, I have made every effort to sleep long and therefore prosper.

My enemy is the alarm clock.  I believe it ought to be everyone’s enemy.  Think about it!  What does “alarm” mean?  It means fright!  Why do we want to frighten ourselves?  Carl Jung said that time is an illusion.  So what is so important that we must frighten ourselves awake simply to meet someone’s perception of where we should be at some particular illusory moment?  Much preferable is getting somewhere when I am ready to get there.  Think of the years of frightened awakenings, which must surely have shortened my life, that could so easily have been avoided had we all simply admitted that time is really not all that important.

My Very Best Friend Bob had an early experience with my awakenings, an experience that a lesser man would have used as an excuse to run very fast away from me never to return.  We were on our first camping trip in his RBT (recreational bread truck).  A lovely spot it was, between fresh and salt water, somewhat away from other campers (which turned out to be a very good thing).  Now Bob was an architect who designed and built commercial buildings, and such folks are used to being on the job quite early.  So on our first morning out, he was up and about at his usual hour, and it was so beautiful that he wanted me to experience it with him.  Well, he opened the door and cheerily shouted at me to rise and shine.  Bad mistake number one was deciding to awaken me.  Bad mistake number two was being cheerful at some godawful predawn (it seemed to me although somehow the sun was already quite bright) hour.  My response, which I thought should have been expected, was to shout back “what the hell time is it?  Leave me alone!”.  Bob did the right thing and closed the door and awaited my own cheerful good morning some time later.  We then spent thirty plus years tiptoeing in the morning and being Very Best Friends Forever.

Now I know that Bob’s means of awakening me was not truly an alarm and so really does fall outside the narrow definition of things to avoid.  But the point is that almost anything that awakens a person (or animal) before the natural getting up time is at the very least a shock to the system.  Think of the dreams that were cut-off mid-action.  There are alarm clocks that are drum-sets that wake you up to the sound of a drummer practicing with every drum and cymbal at her disposal (I almost got one of those for Bob, but remembered just in time that it would also wake me up).  There are alarm clocks that shoot missiles into the room that keep flying around until you get up and corral them.  There are alarm clocks that wake you to the gentle sound of an English valet suggesting that it might be time to awaken.  You can set your clock to wake you with a buzzer (egads!) or music.  Each and every one of these is meant to disturb your sleep rhythms, to shock and alarm you into meeting the new day before you are ready.  None is acceptable.

I have been a non-morning person as long as I can recall.  I am the only person in my family who does not believe that mornings are wonderful if one must be alarmed from sleep to experience them.  So I thought it might have something to do with when I was born.  It turns out that I was born at about 7:30 in the morning.  That is not especially early, but nor is it late enough in the day to be a real factor in my non-morning-ness.  So it might be related to all of those growing-up nights that I spent under the blankets with a flashlight reading books until all hours of the morning, then needing to stay abed through the morning to catch up on missed sleep.  Whatever the reason, I have spent a good amount of effort in my life avoiding the alarums of alarm clocks.

I will end this by saying that there is one way to awaken me that is more than acceptable.  It is to place a cat beside me and encourage a meow or two.

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