This Will Be Hard

The Big Rock

I am not a morning person, but I wake up at 5 o’clock every day.

I began this routine last year, after a period of spontaneous introspection. I had come to a place where my free time was plentiful and my accomplishments were few. I noticed who I was evidently becoming, and I decided I didn’t like that guy. I didn’t know how to change, or even who I wanted to be, but I knew something had to give.

Consider a mason jar, one or two big rocks, a pile of small pebbles, and a cup of sand. What’s the best way to fill the jar? Maybe you’ve heard this one before. If you start with the sand, followed by the pebbles, there’s not a lot of room left for the big rocks. If that order is reversed, however, you can fit in a surprising amount of sand and pebbles once the big rocks are set in place.

Every day we have a jar to fill, but we don’t always fill it with care. I didn’t notice that I was beginning each day with sand and pebbles, but as evening approached, I was continually surprised there was no room left for a big rock.

One fateful evening last year, I decided to start off the next day by picking up a big rock. I knew the only part of the day that was guaranteed was early, before the kids woke up. I also knew I would need a couple hours to myself, so I reluctantly set my alarm for 5:00AM and went to bed.

The next morning, my alarm was an abomination, but I did drag myself to the coffee pot and then to my reading chair. And it was glorious. Not all at once, and in no obvious way. Nevertheless, I was changed. I was better.

Now, as I wind down my day and see to my bedtime chores, I am quite often excited for the next morning. Nearly always, the day has concluded without any reason for great optimism, but I know what my big rock is, and I know when I will set it in the jar.