Archive for August, 2008

August 31, 2008 – August is over, Winter is on the horizon – Damn!



s routinely as ever, I sat this morning, read the morning paper, enjoyed a hot coffee and considered things over at my favorite Starbucks. It’s a 20 minute walk from my home or a four minute drive. Sometimes I ride the Goldwing, when it’s cold it’s the Hummer, sometimes I just walk. Today, in a drenching, torrential rain, I drove. Generally, mornings bring out the best in me. My father, God rest his soul, passed on some morning habits to me that at 50, I’ve come to appreciate. Likely, one of the most important lessons he subtly instilled in me by example was the enjoyment and the importance of starting the day early, before most people and carving out some quiet time just for me. When I’m really busy, that early morning period makes the rest of the harried schedule balance. Over the summer this year, I’ve slacked off work tremendously and the early morning ritual has simply been pure enjoyment.


            For pretty much all of my life, mornings have remained the most sacred part of the day. Today I sat here and realized that because he was gone for almost all of my young life, many of the memories I carry of my father actually involve mornings. I wonder if subconsciously I decided to rise early as a kid just to see him when he was around. He worked hard as a technician for the local phone company and for my entire early life was gone for weeks at a time. When I was about 14 or 15 I had a “before dawn” paper route and he would wake me in the morning. He was always shaved and dressed when he came down to my room and often he would drive me around the route. I was particularly grateful for this in the winter when he was in town. Now, all these years later still trying to be a good student of life’s lessons, I understand how my father’s morning routine (his favorite time) framed everything for the rest of his day.  I would be lying if I said I don’t miss him. My father was a man of few words, a loyal employee yet far removed from today’s hustle and bustle and the modern technological tsunami we now live with and I’m quite sure it would have left him far behind. However, those factors are immaterial when your first desire every day is to simply enjoy a few precious moments early in the morning – alone with your plans and your thoughts as unique and individual as they are. The simplest desire of early morning risers transcends culture and language and borders. The morning is the best time of the day wherever you are and regardless of who you are. My father believed that and I have thought about him every day since he passed away in 1997 after a crippling battle with cancer. I enjoy early mornings in cities across North America, from Vancouver to New York, Edmonton to Miami and I think of him every morning in every city. My morning routine is jut like his was.


When I travel (which is constant these days) my morning routine is the same regardless of where I wake up. I need to get out and feel the start of the day. An early morning walk usually gets me started and let’s me keep the routine in check. For me, there’s stillness in the morning, before the world wakes, that needs to be experienced rather than talked about. I’m drawn to the smell of morning that only exists for a brief period just prior to the sun rising and reheating the earth. Even in my climate here in Calgary, which for eight months of the year is enveloped in winter, there’s something special in the air just before the sun emerges. If it’s snowed all night, the heavy dead silence laying over everything needs to be realized before cars, busses and equipment break the silence. Before all the noise and bother of life in the city, and if you get up early enough after a heavy snow fall and find a quiet place to stand without moving, the fresh blanket deadens everything and, standing perfectly still you’ll not only feel your heartbeat, you’ll hear it. But only in the morning.


In the desert, the landscape is alive and teaming with sounds first thing in the morning. For the last four years, November has had me working in North Phoenix for 8 or 10 days. Every morning, before I can get a coffee, I wander far out beyond the perimeters of the property and the golf course and experience first hand the ebb and flow of the great Arizona desert and, frankly, it’s mesmerizing. The heat from the day prior has left its mark and everywhere you look, life of every sort is trying to gather in supplies before the sun bakes everything later. If you don’t experience it early enough, you miss it. My father would have loved the desert in the morning.


At our home in the summer, because my wife and I are gardeners, there’s a responsibility that needs attended to before anything else can be done. Our garden needs a thorough watering every day and if you’ve never stood in a quiet, freshly watered flower garden first thing in the morning as the orange or crimson sun illuminates the eastern sky, you haven’t lived. It’s one of the most special times. The smell of flowers fills the air, the dew is heavy, the bees buzz about and that morning stillness cleanses a person’s soul. That’s why I think mornings are best.


For the years I coached and helped folks realize their real estate business dreams, my advice never wavered. Start the day early. Get out of bed and find some routine early in the morning before your responsibilities of life take control. Long before breakfast or the kids need rides to school, long before you need to consider and plan against your day timer, just find a way to enjoy the early morning and take in the flavor of the dawn. There’s nothing like it at any other time of the day and it will quickly become a small, realized secret in your life. A secret that will propel you to feel good about things all day, even if it’s only something as simple as 20 minutes away from it all early in the day. When the afternoon turns ugly and the boss is riding you hard because of something, you can close your eyes and visualize yourself enjoying your morning routine.  



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