I woke up stressed, and yes, I wanted to sleep more, but it became clear that this was just not in the cards.
I wish I didn’t wake up this way, but the moment I do, on most days, there it is: a crushing feeling of misery and stress, as if all of my inner demons are waking me up with a breakfast of burnt eggs, rotten sausage, moldy toast, and bitter coffee with sour milk. Regrets about the past—and there are more and more of them with each second I live—flood into my brain, and memories of bullies, combined with thoughts about a present that seems to be full of them, crowd my mind.
And then, within five minutes of getting up, they’re gone.
I don’t know whether it’s the ritual of brewing coffee, the routine of sitting down to tap out some words, or whatever else, but within that short time, the demons recede, and the world seems full of hope. I sit down to write, and even on days that the words don’t come, I at least have a chance to get out of my system the frustrations that come when the words don’t come. This, in turn, makes me eventually think of future times that the words will find their way to my head, and this, eventually, makes the words find their way to my head.
I do so wish I didn’t wake up this way most of the time. There are times where these beginning of the day demons come to me quite early, when I’d really like to catch an extra hour or two of sleep. Alas, it just doesn’t work that way; morning demons, it would seem, sit there, lurking, waiting for that first moment that I open my eyes.
I’ve learned to take power naps in the afternoon, as I often go through the day a bit drowsy (but not exhausted, thank goodness). Still, it would be wonderful if these demons could just wait a bit, and let me get some more sleep.
Still, though, they have the good sense to leave me be once I wake up. Yes, they’ll occasionally come back for a few seconds here and there during a random day, but for the most part, they leave me alone once I put one foot in front of the other, and brew that coffee.
When I imagine the forces that keep those demons at bay, I simply cannot imagine angels. The word “angel,” for me, connotes fey, wispy types who play harps and flutes. I don’t have a problem with such things, really—I like harps and flutes—but this just doesn’t conjure an image of a force sufficient to deal with these morning agents of self doubt and hopelessness. With that in mind, when I visualize the forces that make my morning paradigm shift so dramatically, I think…of other demons.
These demons are friendly, sort of like Clem from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” They’re the demons who’ve been there, and they eat nachos and drink Big Gulps, and tell me that they have a coupon for a breakfast sandwich. They need to go through many pockets as they search for the coupon, and when they find it, the coupon is crumpled up and close to the expiration date; they hand it to me sheepishly, and encourage me to eat something, because it’s morning, and I must be hungry.
These demons have been there. They flunked out of demon school because they prefer to talk about the hope that comes from hardship, and they share stories about the other demons bullying them and writing terrible things about them on social media. Sometimes I comfort these demons, and they lay a grateful hand on my shoulder and say “thanks, pal.”
I am grateful to these demons. They get me past the bad ones, and remind me that I’m not alone, that I’m not the only one going through tough times.
And they’re all really good at brewing coffee.