Morning Is Broken

It is very early, and I am at my cluttered table writing this as the sky lightens behind me. The sun is rising. A new day is being ushered in, thanks to the dependable rotation of the rock we live on and the light pouring out of my favorite ball of hydrogen some ninety-three million miles away.

Maybe it is anxiety, maybe it’s the damned medication I’m taking, or maybe I’m just getting old, but in any case I woke up miserable. Morning is broken, and I don’t know why.

Here I sit just me, the dishwasher (which I will load twice this morning because I’m OCD about dirty dishes), and cup after cup of coffee. The pets and the rest of their masters are still asleep and I am in danger of writing a day off before it has barely begun.

Surrender would be easy, but I’m going to work through it. The sunlight behind me, growing stronger with every click of the keyboard, is a reminder that each day has promise, if we chose to pursue it. I will pursue it today. Here is my plan, a checklist if you will, one I hope you will find useful on broken mornings:

  • I will find some small, quick and simple thing to accomplish today. I’ll trim the lawn or perhaps clean the stove and oven. The key is picking a task that has visible results I feel good about when I finish.
  • I will smile at everyone I encounter today, and smile twice as hard for those who don’t smile back. I’ve learned that smiles are like water dripping on a sharp stone. They wear you down, and in almost every case a smile given is eventually returned.
  • I will forgo my smartphone or television for a walk. Walking is harder for me these days, but I’ve never had a bad day that a walk hasn’t gone a long way towards curing.

I could add things to this list, I suppose. I could make it impossibly long, which would in fact guarantee failure. I’ve learned, however, that a three-point plan gets the job done best.

You will have a morning like this. It is inevitable. When it comes, meet it head-on with your own three-point plan. Keep it simple and achievable. Make your bed, smile a lot and hoof it a little.

Morning may be broken on occasion, but the rest of the day …well that’s on us, isn’t it?

Be good to each other…


James is a bilateral cochlear implant recipient/advocate and a hopeless chicken wing addict. He is also a prostate cancer survivor and warrior. He passionately believes we can all make a positive difference. His shoe size is 10 1/2.

The Window Seat

I don’t mind commercial flights if I have a window seat. Booking one isn’t usually a problem for small twin-prop puddle-jumpers, but getting one on larger aircraft has been hit-and-miss. Years ago I took a trip to South Carolina to attend a training session. I struck out on three of four legs for the round-trip flight. I had aisle seats on the puddle-jumpers and the jet from Philadelphia to South Carolina. Somehow I landed a window seat on the flight back to Philadelphia, and a very good seat it was, being not over the wing. I would be able to watch the countryside sliding beneath me like a tapestry being slowly pulled by an invisible hand.

The morning after training I boarded my flight and my perfect window seat was waiting. The airliner was filling rapidly, and minutes before takeoff only two aisle seats remained: the one next to me and another forward and across the aisle, where the window seat was held by a man the size and build of a Sumo wrestler.

At the last moment, a flurry of activity at the front of the cabin! A young woman and her son, a boy of perhaps eight or ten years of age, entered the aisle with the flight attendant, who seated the mother next to the man mountain. The attendant took the hand of the boy, his eyes brimming with tears, and headed my way. The mother, now crying as well, looked back from her seat as her child reached my row.

“Have a seat with this nice man and I’ll buckle you in,” the attendant said softly.

A voice rang out: “This won’t do.”

It surprised me, because the voice was mine.

I stood and gave the boy my window seat. “You’ll like it,” I said to him. “It’s like a magic carpet ride, and the whole world is at your feet.”

I asked the attendant to bring the mother back to the aisle seat while I walked forward to take hers. I couldn’t look out the window on the flight. I couldn’t even see the window: my view was the well-tailored suit of my amiable and massive seatmate.

I’ve never forgotten what that day taught me: each of us can make small positive differences that ripple across humanity. For that mother and child on that particular day, I made all the difference in the world. I’ve wondered at times how far across humanity that small ripple will travel. For, you see, it travels still with every word you’ve just read. So, my friend, use every day to make a little ripple of your own. Make a difference.

James is a bilateral cochlear implant recipient/advocate and a hopeless chicken wing addict. He is also a prostate cancer survivor and warrior. He passionately believes we can all make a positive difference. His shoe size is 10 1/2.