“I bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.

All that is eternal in me
Welcomes the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.

I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter
And all beauty drawn to the eye.

May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.

May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer,
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.”

O’Donohue, John. Benedictus: A Book Of Blessings

12.3d
The morning beckons ©MTHerzog

A recent review of the book The Miracle Morning has people all over the world getting up an hour earlier than usual to add an hour of personal time before 8:00am to their day. The author, Hal Elrod refers to this as The Morning Mission, transforming the morning rush that catapults us into our crazy day ahead into a gentler start that leads to increased productivity and focus.

My initial reaction to this was “I rise at 5:00 am already, why on earth should I get up at 4:00 am?”. Once again the West has discovered (uncovered) and is marketing something the East has been doing for centuries. It comes naturally to Asians in general to be up and about long before 8:00. The fishermen begin their day at 3:00 am, the bakers and vegetable vendors at the markets are all set up by 5:00, and every Filipino housewife is ready with breakfast by 6:00 am, before the husband rises and the children have to be prepared for work and school respectively. By this time, the Asian woman has bathed, prayed, meditated, and depending on which Asian country you live in, gone for a walk, done the group exercise in the park, or gone to the temple / church. The 6:00 am mass in my old parish in Manila was full every morning, and so was the 7:00 am one at our university.

So, no, I am not impressed by Hal Elrod’s proposal because as an Asian woman this makes absolutely no difference to my life and seemed to be a Western attempt of reinventing the Eastern wheel. What did pique my interest, however, was the sequel book, The Miracle Morning for Writers, a collaboration between Hal Elrod and Steve Scott. I’m still working on that, so I’ll be back with another entry on the topic. As it is, I write and blog at 6:00 am, and sometimes photograph at 5:30 in my pyjamas! It grounds me and even though I live alone, this is an incredibly personal time that I have worked hard on setting up. These personal miracle mornings do not happen overnight, and sometimes they take years to develop, depending on the individual discipline and willpower.

There are millions of people out there who begin their days before 8:00 per se, and I can name several dozen of my acquaintances who are in the office before 8:00, so to tell these people to start an hour earlier is a bit of a joke. Fundamentally, there are very good reasons to start the day much earlier in Asia – it is too darn hot by 8:00, and both my grandmothers and mother considered the day half over by that time because the sun was too high and there was no more fresh fish to buy in the market (the definition of fresh fish by their standards was that it still had to be jumping).

In the meantime, I returned to my favourite philosopher poet, John O’Donohue who gave me this morning’s impulse and I take to heart:

May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.

To me, the lines that makes all the difference in my early morning meanderings are

To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.

I know all about risk, change and being disturbed, but to risk being changed is a whole new ballgame. It entails embracing everything unfamiliar and painful together with very little of what is familiar within your own soul and taking the plunge, going against the grain of what we have been doing for years  and refusing to accept it harmed us more than did us good. So yes, I am in the process of breaking the dead shells of yesterday, and this morning I am willing to take another risk.