Whys and Hows

"He who has his why can endure any how." - Nietzsche

Part I - Why

I am a heavy sleeper. No, that's not quite right. You don't fully understand my meaning. I don't wake up. You could flick a match onto a bulldozer loaded with fireworks and I'd barely turn over. It's not just that I sleep heavy. I wake up heavy. My body likes eight straight. It's a burden for all parties involved. Anyone who's tried to wake me up is owed my deepest apologies and sympathy.

I've tried everything: Putting the alarm on the other side of the room. Setting one alarm. Setting multiple alarms. Trusting my body to wake up on its own. It's all a mess.

The snooze bar is my proof against god. If God gave us free will, he'd release me from my eternal struggle. The goddamn, tempting, beautiful, heartbreaking snooze bar. Only divorcees have these kinds of ambivalent relationships. I pound that little fucker like it owes me lunch money. Five times a morning. Until my morning is a disaster. Until I'm blowing through stale yellow lights and sprinting to the time clock. That button is my nightmare.

For most of my life, I've promised myself to just wake up when my alarm goes off. It's not hard. Rationally, I know it's the only option. I don't take seriously the notion that I might actually retreat to my bed for the better part of the day. I'm too much of a coward to call in sick for work. So in reality, I'm just telling Nick-from-an-hour-from-now to fuck off. But despite my numerous attempts, I'm still a slave to those nine minute increments of bliss.

In my more existential moments, I've urged myself to convert more second order desires into primary ones. Convincing myself I, by sheer force of will, can change myself. Seemed simple and banal enough. Hear an alarm. Get up.

But for nearly thirty years, I remained slave to silence. Nothing made me happier than the nine minute chunks of sleep I'd steal back from my alarm. Consequences are a bitch. I was perpetually rushing during my needlessly chaotic mornings. Every day was an emergency. 

I was defeated. The champion of free will had conceded. It can't be done. Or at least not by me. The wisdom of my logic was shouted down by Egyptian cotton and feather pillows.

Part II - How

When I moved to Chicago, I didn't know a single person for a thousand miles. I liked to read outside because I sincerely believed the kind of woman I wanted to meet would see I was reading X and be so impressed that I absorbed X, she would have to go on a date with me. This has happened a grand total of zero times.

Two things happened as a result: i) I read a shit ton of books and ii) to justify taking up space on their patio, I starting buying a coffee as payment for the seat. I may have neglected to mention that until such time, I had consumed a grand total of zero coffee drinks.  Most days I'd bike to my neighborhood coffee shop, some little outfit called Intelligentsia or some such and buy a coffee beverage. By the end of the summer, I found myself at a Starbucks before an audition paying rent for my seat. I ordered a latte and began reading.

I nearly spit the coffee out.

I tactfully informed the barista there was some sort of error with my drink. It tasted off. To their credit, they politely and promptly remade my drink. The damnedest thing happened: it tasted exactly the same. There wasn't an error.   This is what their coffee tasted like. What had I been drinking?!

It turns out I had been drinking some of the best coffee in Chicago, putting it high in the running for best coffee in the world. Unwittingly, I had become a coffee snob. As winter approached, my patio visits became more infrequent. I invested in a personal coffee pot, a Bunn Velocity Brew. It keeps the water at temp at all times, like a fire fighter poised on my counter ready to jump at a moment's notice. Over the next few months, I found myself popping out of bed earlier and earlier, sometimes without the aid of an alarm.

Soon, most mornings were spent with a mug in my hand. Now it is a rare goddamn occasion I leave my house without it. Coffee is a morning cliche, but this was different. I didn't care about the caffeine. My work has free coffee. I could give a shit about that Keurig volcanic ash cum. I woke up early because the experience of drinking good coffee and reading news was better than sleep.

I realized you can't change. Humans don't change. At least not on a whim. You can't just decide to eat healthy, work out, get up early, or focus on your art. The reason why we don't is because we don't value it, or we value it less than cheeseburgers, Netflix, sleeping in and jerking off to Internet porn. We may feel a social pressure to appreciate the world in this way, but the true hierarchy of our values is revealed in our actions. We are what we do. These tertiary and secondary value judgments suggest we might think we ought to wake up early and stop hitting the snooze, but until a value trumps the marginal joy of stealing nine minutes of your morning back from work, your ass ain't getting out of bed.

school < sleep
work < sleep
bullshit personal existentialist pissing contest with self < sleep

coffee and noodling sleep 

In the end, it is very simple. Wanton freedom of choice doesn't exist. Only a competing value can compel us to action. For me, it was drinking that freshly brewed serious gourmet shit. It's gnarly and aggressive. It's bold, black, and consumed unadulterated. Coffee is what happens when you have rough sex with tea. It's what my heroes called Black Blood. And I love it enough to stop hitting the snooze bar, get my ass out of bed, and start my motherfucking day.

Visit @muglife4life on IG and Mug Life if you want to see me get nerdy.

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