Connecting the Dots: What prompts you to get up in the morning?

  • Section of photograph by Keith Carver from the book “Words to Live By,” and quote by Lois Graessle. CONTRIBUTED

Published: 11/26/2022 10:25:06 AM
Modified: 11/26/2022 10:22:40 AM

This question was prompted by an article in the New York Times that identified the emotion of the year 2021 as “languishing.” The Times noted that we weren’t necessarily depressed or hopeless, but “feeling a sense of blah, or emptiness.”

The reasons for this languishing seem clear to me: we’re facing a new round of COVID-19 strains, we’re struggling with whether or not to return to the workplace, and many feel like we have no ability to plan for the future any more. Then, there is our rapidly deteriorating environment and our rapidly deteriorating political climate. And more immediately, inflation. Here in the commonwealth the American Farm Bureau reported a record high cost of a Thanksgiving turkey at $37.35, exceeding last year’s price by 20 percent. All these symptoms — brain fog, exhaustion, financial stress, lack of sleep and overall burnout — seem pretty obvious.

I sometimes feel a loss of control over what little time I have left in my own life … not that I was ever in control. Next to my bed on the wall is a glorious color photograph of a morning sunrise with this quote: “I am blessed to wake up this day with the choice of my attitude.” I received this sentence in 2014 from an old friend, writer and activist in England, Lois Graessle. I, and her many friends, family and colleagues, lost Lois to cancer two years later.

Contemplating this image and the words that Lois’s phrase embraces, led me to ask myself what it was that woke me each morning. Which then led to a question I sent to a whole batch of my email friends: “What prompts you to get up each morning?”

I am grateful for the pastiche of positive personal “attitudes” that the 43 responses (43!) have gifted me. They provide a quilt of love with little of the languishing that the Times noted.

There is no way I can include the more than 2,500 words these responses consume in my column with its 750-word limit. So, I will give you a few short ones from Franklin County to stimulate your curiosity. Others in my growing collection are from many other states and include Canada and England.

I would love to share all 43 (and counting) responses with you. If you are interested, please send me an email (below) with “Wake Up Call” on the subject line. I’ll include the full gorgeous sunrise photograph with Lois’s quote.

Each writer below is identified as either female (F), male (M) along with their age and where they live. Here a sampling from western Massachusetts.

■What gets me up in the morning is the light of day. In the light air I find hope. In the movement of my body, I find purpose. ~ M 73, Greenfield.

■As a retiree, I have chosen to continue my work of seeking out and promoting climate and biodiversity crises “solutions.” Before I go to bed, I decide on ONE thing I am going to accomplish the next day to move that forward. In the morning that motivates me to get out of bed. ~ F 77, Greenfield.

■It’s a mixed bag. Yes, I am pessimistic about the future of our politics and our planet. BUT every day I realize how lucky I am to have a warm and loving family, a treasury of old and new caring friends, reasonably good health and a comfortable and peaceful place to live and flourish. I very much appreciate all the good things that I have, and I am glad that I can give back a little to my community and to those in need. ~ M 85, Greenfield.

■I have friends and family I want to relate to. I want to step outside and reconnect to the natural world every day. I might learn something that will change my heart and/ or mind moving me further toward being at peace with my life as it has been given me. ~ F 82, Northfield.

■What prompts me to get up each morning? Chuckle … the need to pee! But on a deeper level, the desire to create, to connect with friends, and to spend as much time adventuring outdoors as possible. ~ F 62, Buckland.

In my Oct. 31 column I quoted philosopher Jonathan Lear who described “radical hope” is that “it is directed toward a future goodness that transcends the current ability to understand what it is.” Which prompts some of my respondents to wake up each day.

John Bos lives in Greenfield. His column appears every other Saturday in the Recorder. He relishes connecting the dots in our scrambled world and times. For a copy of the 43 responses to the question of what prompts people to arise each day, email and put “Wake up Call” in the subject line.


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