Every weekday morning, I live out the same fifteen minutes.
That’s the amount of time I have every morning to get ready after my alarm goes off.
They tick down like this:
2 minutes: Start a quarter pot (2 cups) of coffee
5 minutes: Shower
3 minutes: Dress
5 minutes: Gather belongings for work. Phone, wallet, keys, gym-bag, laptop, lunch. Somewhere in here I’ll chug a cup of coffee that brewed during shower time.
My math says that accounts for all them.
During this period I’m a very sleepy, unhappy human following a programmed routine that rarely changes. I execute the same code every day. The only variations occur when I’m missing an item (can’t find my keys! Where the $#$%! are they?) or I’ve contracted an illness and need to take the day off.
In my nearly fourteen years of working, I’ve gone through this harried routine 3,400 times or so – and I have another three hundred or more to go before I’m done with it.
The contrast to this are my weekends. I wake up around the same time – usually seven but sometimes later — and then lounge in bed for fifteen minutes, enjoying the feeling of being alive, warm, and comfortable, without any particular need to be anywhere. Some days I don’t lounge at all, preferring to bound out of bed to go and do something. Drive to Connecticut to see my family. Get ready to go hiking. Play guitar for a couple of hours. Jog outside while the day is breaking open.
The two weekend days I have a choice about how I spend my morning. If I want it to be a frenzied, crazy mess, then it’ll be that way because I want it to be. And if I want to lay in bed and watch Game Sack’s youtube channel for an hour, well, that’s fine too. I’m much, much happier on the weekends and most of the increase in mood comes from being free to make personal choices. In English: I can do exactly what I want. I’m free.
I find it insane that modern humans who live in a world of luxuries and plenty – high standards of living, abundant quantities of food, plenty of cheap energy – are willing to indefinitely subject themselves to a lack of choice in their life an average of five out of seven days a week. To be locked into these sorts of routines which deny much variation.
But LivingaFI, you might protest. It’s silly to complain about how rushed you feel in the mornings when you have to work. Surely you could get up earlier if you wanted to add some color to your routine. Get up at five thirty and watch the sun come up. Go for a jog in the dark. Read a book. Or just get ready really slowly. Have a longer shower. Cook a big breakfast for yourself. Spend some time with your wife, if you can convince her to get up earlier, too.
My response is that isn’t how humans are wired. On days when we have to work, we figure out the minimum amount of time required to make ourselves presentable and otherwise prepare, add that to our commute time, and subtract that total from whatever hour we need to be in the office. I would argue that to do anything else is irrational because waking up earlier ends up increasing the amount of time spent in a state of semi-dread. The work-cloud of anticipation will hang over anything else you’re trying to do. In other words, taking an alternate approach would only increase job-related anxiety.
I’m looking forward to having more of a choice when it comes to when and how I wake up. I don’t know any other animal that bolts out of bed at a scheduled alarm and then rushes around doing this and that, before they’ve even had a chance to wake up a little bit. The only time I’ve ever seen that sort of behavior is when the animal is frightened. Like if you pull a cat’s tail while it’s taking a snooze — that’ll sure make it wake up running.
So if the only time animals wake up and go-go is when they’re scared and in pain, what does that say about us humans?