I heard on NPR a few days ago that author Dan Brown starts writing daily at 4am. That’s probably why dark and complex conspiracies haunt his books. Not a lot of positivity floating around at 4am in my experience. Happy and uplifting ideas start appearing around 5:30 or so, but not before that. Used to be, I’d automatically define any idea that popped up past 11pm as not being a good one. Over the years, I’ve expanded those parameters. These days any idea that surfaces past 9pm or before 5am is plopped in the “questionable” pile. First off, I’m not asleep when I want to be, and feel robbed of a basic human right and grumpy about it. Secondly, those dark hour ideas and thoughts are consistently negative. There are no great ideas of how to save humanity or make the world a better place. Nope, its all about things that could have, should have happened. Or what I should’ve said, or worse, what they should’ve done. Its astonishing how far back into the past resentment and regret go at that hour. Just last night, on a wee hour mental wander, I got mad all over again that a schoolmate in middle school (we called it Junior High back then) took the last chocolate ripple ice cream* at lunch time when she KNEW that was my favorite. Did it right in front of me and laughed. These are not helpful thoughts for anyone. Because on the heels of the memory is, “Why the hell am I remembering this?”
This time of year, there’s a proliferation of good thoughts and perky memes that pop onto Facebook. Hopeful declarations that yes indeedy we can live life without regret, dancing to our own tune, planting happy seeds of joy and let go of doubt and fear, no matter our age or life conditions. It’s a new year, a new day, and the authors are feelin’ fine. These memes and wishes were clearly all conceived during the daytime and not in the 9pm-5am pocket of doom. Now, I’m not a curmudgeon (yet). I like seeing them, and often take a moment to try them on for size. I just don’t think they reflect our true human condition. I think we all try really hard every day, but none of us is regret free, and I bet nearly everyone has those 3am visits from the Ghosts of Christmas Past that are decidedly unpleasant. I’m learning the best way to make peace with myself is to embrace my regrets, and even my resentments as opportunities for me to Not Do That Again. Problem is, if you’ve had a bout of early morning memory review, and haven’t slept, those happy-sappy memes are likely to simply make you mad. Hands up if you’ve ever just wanted to punch something after you see a carefree, lilting little graphic blissfully assuring that you CAN do it, little camper, if you just buck up.
Yet. I’m guilty of hopeful posting myself. I posted about going wheat-free, dairy-free, soy-free, booze-free, coffee-free, and sugar-free for 30 days on New Years Day. By gum it was a perky post, reflecting my expectation of getting comfortably back into my jeans without resorting to lying on the floor to get the zipper up. I loved eating all those holiday treats, and baking them, but am past the point of leggings being a fashion choice, so must perforce, get back into my jeans. I’ve done this detox before, with great results, and now on day 4 can expect to start feeling better as I am nearly past the sugar detox, which is always the worst – its probably why I was grinding about someone stealing my ice cream when I was 12 at 3:30am this morning. So, my apologies if my perky and hopeful post about getting back on the health track annoyed you – here, you can have my chocolate ripple ice cream if you want it.
*side note: my standard lunch in those days was a container of chocolate milk which cost 5 cents, and a container of ice cream which cost 6 cents. You’d get a glass, put the ice cream in it, and then pour the chocolate milk over and mix it up, creating an ice cream sundae for lunch. It was great, and cost 11 cents.