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Morning Routines

November 18, 2017


It is a half hour passed the mid-point of the morning. Or perhaps I should just say 6:30 in this digital age and no doubt many are just now waking up to the sound of a beep upon their bedside table ready to start their morning routine. They will hit snooze, pretending they have given themselves other options but eventually they will recognize they have only prolonged the inevitable. They all get up, brush their teeth, get dressed, send their children off to school and begin their morning drive.

The very word “routine” seems to me nothing more than an attempt to create a fancier synonym for “rut” or “rat race”.

This morning, like most mornings I have left early on my occupational sojourn. I too must gladly fill my daily task knapsack with those same items as my neighbours however I have made it a “routine” of my own to make the children’s lunches the night before, place them in the fridge overnight and when I awake in the morning before even the early bird stirs I place those lunches within their school bags, have clothes for the day set out for the younger ones and have placed boots and jackets by the staircase.

I must mention that I could not enjoy my mornings thus without the approval and support of my wife. It has always been true that I have been the Rooster to her Owl. And when we had infants she would look after any feedings until 1 am and I gladly looked after feedings after 3 am. It was only that “no man’s land” of those two hours between that we would look at each other with forlorn.

But I digress and feel I must return to where I began.

Today I am working with high school teachers from Brampton and Mississauga on team building, wellness and collaboration. The school I am to be at for 8:30 is in the southern part of the City and as I live well north of the city lights and traffic I make use of my time to get as far as I can before the beeping of the alarm clock on my neighbours’ acts as a starting pistol for their day.

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And so, I find myself sitting at Lakeside Promenade Park in Mississauga at 6:30 am. As the first line of this refection states the morning is over half over and most have not even started their day.

I sit on a bench with a small paper notebook, a felt tipped pen and my copy of Walden by Henry David Thoreau at my side. The sun was barely hinting at its intention over Lake Ontario when I sat down but by the time I have written what I have thus far Apollo’s chariot has risen and the silhouette of the Toronto skyline can be seen.

It is my favourite time of day and I’m thrilled that it happens twice each day. At dusk as well as at dawn the sky can be full of colour whilst everything on the land below is still in shadows.

It’s mid November and the diving ducks have gathered and are flying along the shoreline  with rapid intent but not quite ready to continue their migration across the vast lake – once more reminding me of my neighbours and their snooze buttons.

As well as the Mergansers and Scaup I see a few beautiful Buffleheads and even a pair of majestic Swans nearer the shoreline.

Meanwhile the sound of the City behind me, now at almost 7 am must be occurring but is veiled from my hearing by the light lapping of the water, the distance gossip of the Canada Geese and the whistling wings of those diving ducks on a serious mission to go no where in particular.

Being November I stopped by on my way here to grab a Starbucks coffee, a simple Grande Bold for while I do not dismiss the desires of others to have flavours that imitate a coffee to taste like a pie or a fruit, I have always been simple in the regard.

And I think that is exactly why I am sitting here.

As part of our  #Walden21st book talk taking Thoreau’s lessons on mindfulness and essentialism we have been given the task of simulating Thoreau’s morning designs. By his own words he attested to be a “worshipper of Aurora”. This is the reason I am writing these thoughts down. Almost anyone that knows me can attest to my early mornings but beyond that I refuse to get caught up in what could only be described as a different or just an earlier routine.

Some mornings I sit upon my back porch with a coffee and read the news. Other dawns see me going for a run and contemplating the day ahead. And still others, like today have me sitting in a natural spot and watching the rest of both civilization – and separately -even my fellow Homo Sapiens begin their “routines”

My father in Alberta often told me growing up that “real cowboys don’t line dance – they’d rather hold their loved one in their arms”. Whilst I find myself each morning dancing to the music we all hear, my own “routine” strives to allow me to take the lead and not get caught up in the automated dance so many others find themselves facing.

I promise myself that these are my last lines as I must head off to begin setting up for the day of mindfulness and character education ahead. Not only that but my fingers are now feeling the November chill even with the sun rising over the City.  I have enjoyed sharing this moment with the ducks, the water and the dormant trees in the park to begin my day and it has left me with both a peaceful feeling of being in control of my day ahead and at the same time with a determination and sense of purpose for the day.

That sense of purpose tastes even better than the coffee.


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