It can be said (because I’m saying it) that the man who has achieved true happiness in life is the one that, somehow, has figured out how to live a structured and fulfilling life without the need of an alarm clock. This might apply to both ends of the economic spectrum. The one thing that the very rich and the horribly poor share in common is that they can sleep as late into the day as they want without any real need to wake up. It must be nice to be wealthy and only get out of bed because you want breakfast. That’s the thing that pulls you out from under your covers. I have to get out of bed because I need to catch a bus to work. Why does Bill Gates get out of bed? Bacon.
Or maybe there’s more to it than that. If you think about it, why wouldn’t a wealthy person want to get out of bed? While I rise to re-live the same mediocre day I’ve lived a million times, one might think that a wealthy person is rising to infinity, waking up to a day stuffed with possibility and excess. A full day of bacon, if you will. I can’t help but picture an imaginary rich man waking in pajamas made of velvet, throwing open the curtains to a spectacular sunrise. This is morning for the man who needs no alarm clock.
In stark contrast, I wake up in total darkness. When I go to bed it’s dark, and when I wake up it’s still the same way. I’m apparently being out-slept by the sun. My cell phone alarm clock goes off at 7:00 AM, and is immediately re-set for 7:15. This is done hurriedly, with annoyance. At 7:15 I rise in rebellion. I turn on the lights and sit back down in the bed. Then I stare at the wall for about 10 minutes. It’s like I’m saying ‘screw you’ to the new day. Yes, I’m awake, but no, I’m not going to be any more productive than if I was asleep. It’s like the early stages of grief when a person is in denial. Eventually I move into acceptance, and that’s when I begin to stand.
For the new year, I had a brilliant idea. I’m going to purchase a calendar, and on each day I’ll write a motivating factor, something to influence me to get out of bed in the morning. I’m calling it “Bill’s Motivational Calendar.” If it’s successful, perhaps I can market the idea of “motivational calendars,” make a fortune, and then I won’t need an alarm clock (or a motivational calendar) any more. That’s the plan, baby!
One time I had my students come up with whacky inventions during class. A particularly creative boy invented “Death Bed.” This was basically a bed with a guillotine attached to it and a weight sensor. If the alarm went off and the sensor detected that the person was still in bed after a few minutes, the blade of the guillotine would drop. In theory, this would motivate a person to get up. I’m not sure that this invention would work for everyone. There is a certain allure, I believe, in turning off the alarm, shutting your eyes, and returning to wonderful sleep, to stay in the comfort of dream even as your head rolls away.