Wakeup Call: Resisting Irrelevance

I slept today until nearly six o’clock.

Now this would not be news most places– that someone pushing 70 would get 9 hours sleep. But on Goose Creek, this is, if you’ll pardon the mixed message–a personal wakeup call.

Since March of 2002, even when it was not the wife’s early work hours that rousted me from bed, my own internal alarms got me up absolutely not later than 4:30–not ever, weekends and holidays included.

What prompted me out of bed was the jolt of memory of a thing, an idea, a concept discovered the night before for which there had not been time to write or to fully process. It might be the pull of an incomplete conversation begun earlier in the week, more often than not, with a “blog friend” who had left a comment or emailed or maybe Skype called from Canada. I had to grab that thread and get back into the stream of conversation.

All those years, as soon as my mind peeped out from under the covers there was a pleasant urgency to be at it–a new day of exploration, visual or mental or creative in some way–with the ultimate intent to share where I was, what I had seen, what I was wondering or thinking or hoping or fearing or felt I had come in some way to know better.

And it was this last bit–this notion of not being alone after various and mostly minor “ah ha” moments. It was this that rose up as the chief catalyst to getting out of a warm bed in a cold dark room to boot up my brain and my blog at the same time.

More often than not, the effort was rewarding if not rewarded. And the cycle of gathering, processing, synthesizing and sharing was my day–has been my day–start to finish. Until lately.

This morning’s total lack of any prompt whatsoever until 2 hours past my usual hour of “pleasant urgency” has me thinking. And I know I should just do this rumination within the confines of my own gray matter, but no, old habits don’t die so easily.  I’m letting my fingers have a say.

Feeling the loss of momentum, the absence of purpose, the empty seats at the table, is there still any relevance to what I have learned and come to know? Is there a point to Fred’s pointless sharing?

And, not by total coincidence, as all this happens I wander in my uncharted reading upon another’s writing  about just this:  the role and relevance for such a learner-teacher as myself.

This morning, following the threads connected to sketchnotes (from yesterday’s pointless post) comes this from Edutopia addressed to adult learners and potential teachers:

Don’t assume that people already have the information.

It’s an easy mistake to believe that everyone already knows something that you have learned. This is rarely the case. Excellent adult learners who think about retaining, reflecting, and redistributing are almost always ahead of the learning curve. Your efforts to share will enrich the learning ecosystem. You’ll remove friction from the system and support the mingling of ideas necessary for change. The smallest chunk of information can spark a transformation. The slightest nudge can be the catalyst for change.

Can one be a catalyst for change when he finds no reason to get out of bed of a morning? I wonder.

Share this with your friends!

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. When I was younger I used to wonder why my dad way always up by 6 AM, no matter how late he went to bed. As I approach the age he was back when I was wondering about this stuff I find myself up by 7:30 AM at the very latest, doesn’t matter if I go to bed at 10 PM or 1 AM.

    Maybe nature’s way of reminding us that we don’t have unlimited time on this rock circling the sun?

  2. Fred, I’m confident you will always be a catalyst for change and an ever curious person, regardless of what time you get out of bed. For most humans, getting up AS EARLY AS 6 A.M., is unthinkably too early, so you are way ahead of the rest of us. There’s a time for rest, like everything else.

  3. Did I read correctly, that you have been getting out of bed “absolutely not later than 4:30” since 2002? I’m impressed. I try for 5:00 a.m., and am usually successful in getting up, getting that coffee on and starting to write by 5:15. It is the best time to write…for me at least! No one around, no traffic on the street below me, no possibility of the phone ringing, not even a paper deliverer (almost typed ‘paper boy!) around. No other time works quite so well for me. By 8:30 my husband is up, and we begin our busy day. Goodness knows what we do all of those hours, but I can guarantee I don’t have time to write! Keep at it. You do a wonderful job of this site!

  4. Excellent quote you serendipitously came across. Rings very true to me. I have learned a lot from your blog over the years. It has enriched my life and that’s why I have read almost every entry for 13 years or thereabouts.
    Age does start changing our mental function, however. My eagerness to learn and remember new things has greatly diminished as my energy, mental and physicsal, has declined. So, adapt to the new you, but keep enjoying all your old passions, even thought the fire has died down.

  5. I missed this yesterday. Things have been topsy turvy here the past week. Ralph, the regular exerciser for years, had triple bypass surgery 7 days ago. Talk about a wake up call! Enjoy this time. Don’t stop teaching or learning, though I believe the nature of both certainly does change with age. Teaching and learning are best considered the opposite sides of the same coin, I think, at the essence involving curiosity and the eagerness to share what you notice or find out along the way. I have always remembered a dedication written in a Nursing textbook many years ago. “To those who teaching learn and learning teach.” Your curiosity is contagious and you notice things many don’t even see. This is a real strength regardless of age. We live in a culture that values BEING PRODUCTIVE. Influencing others and making a difference can be a lot more subtle than that, I think.