I was recently asked a really simple question that I had no answer for, ‘What wakes you up in the morning?’. It’s one of those things you’d think everyone has figured out since we all seem to be getting out of bed successfully on a regular basis. Well, there are some obvious answers like force of habit, money, or a really uncomfortable bed. But each of those things could have a whole slew of more basic motivations behind them. Who’s forcing the habit? Your parents, boss? Are you forced because you want to live up to expectations or is it really just pure inertia?
Well, I had no good answer so I thought a good thought experiment would be to imagine yourself physically staying on your bed for weeks, not touching the phone, any of your books, talking to roommates, looking out the window, or anything. You’re just completely cut off from the world around you and you don’t get a chance to tell anyone in advance. What strikes you the most? Who gets the most worried about your well being? Who is let down? What things you are involved with crumble down? And for all the things for which you identify someone or something, which things Really make you long to be back?
Well, a number of things came to mind, but here are my first few immediate, most visceral thoughts. The first thing that came to mind was how worried my parents would be. I know I would be getting a long string of concerned calls and e-mails from them. The feeling of abandonment they’d feel if they knew I was ignoring them really struck me hard because I know how much it means for them just to receive a simple phone call or card from any of their kids. Not being able to hear or see my girlfriend would also be one of the worst things. I’ve really cherished every bit of our three years together even through the long distance which has been tough. I think I’d also spend a lot of time on that bed thinking about where I hadn’t done the best job as a boyfriend and wished I had opened up more.
The first two things that hit me so far had been relationships. The other two were about missed opportunities. One is the missed opportunities to change the world. Now, I don’t mean to be so pretentious as to say I’m sparking global movements. I mean it as making some kind of positive impact on the world around me, through the designs I do at work, helping friends one-to-one, writing a blog post that changes the way someone thinks, or simply figuring out how I will make that positive impact sometime in the future. Finally, I’d miss the opportunities to learn. One of my biggest joys is simply learning new things about this world and processing what I learn into new ideas.
So that’s what came to mind for me. On a lighter note, if you’re Really having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, try this alarm clock (revealed by a I’m Feeling Lucky Google search for “what wakes you up in the morning”):