I suppose it’s incumbent upon me to state clearly that I do understand that a lazy and fearful person like me is unlikely to plunge into newness and adventure, no matter how alluring the topic or event. Not that you didn’t already know this about me from any number of previous confessions and revelations in a related vein. Yet while my lack of courage and spirit will undoubtedly hound me for the rest of my days, I’m happy to report that I still manage to grow and change over time, if perhaps more slowly and accidentally than others do so.The ancient adage that ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ is ridiculously pessimistic, if you ask me. I’ve known plenty of senior citizens to avidly pursue and conquer all sorts of new skills and knowledge, and I’m working my way toward being a bit of a Grandma Moses myself, being ever hopeful that at least by the time I hit my eighties I might also hit my stride in whatever turns out to be my life’s calling. But beyond vocation or avocation, that tired and cynical aphorism also assumes that we can’t just continue to better ourselves once we hit a mythical age barrier. What an unpleasant and unproductive idea!I much prefer the concept of discovering what we are capable of learning, accomplishing and enjoying for the first time (or anew) and embracing it at whatever pace suits us. While others are busy jumping through hoops of flame and running obstacle courses and playing catch with other dogged devotees of the disc, if all I can do is learn to Sit Up and Beg, then at least I’ll get some handouts from wiser, more talented and skilled beings. Could be downright fun, and I’ll lap it right up I’m sure. It certainly beats sticking forever to the one trick I’ve known best since my youth, Rolling Over and Playing Dead.
That old saying has transcended life-directional, generational and international boundaries so widely and deeply that it’s practically accepted as the absolute Truth. Don’t get me wrong, for many it is indeed an operational reality. But as someone who not only loves to sleep in but craves, nay, needs large quantities of sleep regularly if not constantly, well, I have come to accept my own version of this truth, or one I think is a more completely accurate version.
Yes, the early bird gets that proverbial worm more often than not.
But every birdie that gets out there, raring to go, in the earlier hours of any given day is not inherently smarter or a better hunter or more wonderful than the one still tucked neatly into the nest, storing up strength for her own burst of action, no matter what either’s pace or style or M.O. happens to be. For one little thing, the Law of Unintended Consequences can indeed be a nasty spank on the flank to anyone not paying proper attention, but in other senses, it can also lend a lovely surprise ending, a positive twist unforeseen: the worm that the aforementioned early bird unceremoniously cheated out of another day’s orchard-munching left an untouched, pristine apple hanging there. This glorious apple would otherwise have been unavailable to Miss Sleepy-Cheepy, who has finally arisen, seen the sweet orb of the fruit eclipsing a late-morning sun and surrounded by its celestial aura with a sense of angel choirs bursting into cinematic soundtrack song, and eaten her fill of juicy, energy-producing (and doctor-evading, if we are to believe all old sayings while we’re in this groove) goodness. Hopefully, thanking in her heart her early rising cousin for rescuing a tidbit that she secretly prefers to eating boring old worms anyway.
This, of course, is one microscopic scenario in the universe of possibilities. Many of those alternate realities are terrible, many grand, and many, just as on the millions of days before them, unremarkable. Except as they are experienced by us quirky, crazy, individual beings. We have our own filters and will always know life’s ups and downs through those; even though our filters must change as we change-or-die in life, we will never cease to experience a filtered life as long as we do live. We find our own realities. We shape them and understand them as best we can, and we let our own compulsions and desires and beliefs keep pulling us into the new world of tomorrow, whether we get up at the blink of its dawn or lie somnolent well into the middle of the day.
I am no bird. But I can fly, too, despite my urge to sleep a very long time while nestled in my safe places, and despite my natural resistance to learning new and seemingly impossible things. And it doesn’t have to be before a certain hour of the clock for me to stretch my wings. Maybe I’m a bat. If so, that makes me the early one, I guess.