Karen Horneffer-Ginter
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"Waking Up"

With great anticipation, I awaited the arrival of my new Zen Alarm Clock. Just weeks before, it had dawned on me that this was exactly what I needed. The awareness didn't arrive in one jolting moment, but rather, just as the alarm clock promised, with a natural progression into clarity. Once my decision was made and my mind imagined waking to a soothing series of chimes, the blaring siren of my radio-alarm felt much more violent to my senses, as though its noise was ripping my covers away from my body and catapulting my sleepy mind into the harshness of the early morning routine.

In contrast, my new alarm promised to offer a gradual transformation from a sleeping person to a person who was calm, alert, and ready to go. More than this, I hoped that the chiming of the bell would not only arouse my lethargic body, but would also awaken within me-- somewhere in the marrow of my bones or in the center of my heart-- the potential for living the day in a more conscious, mindful manner. I realize it was a lot to expect from a clock, but given its price, my hopes seemed realistic.

When the rectangular postal box arrived at my doorstop days later, I scooped it up with excitement and care, and began unwrapping the packaging in order to set it up for a trial. I gathered my family members so they, too, could witness what would become our new way of greeting the morning.

As the clock first sounded its chime, both my children squinted their eyes and announced almost in unison, "It sounds like the toaster." Then my son went on, as if further explanation was needed, "You know, the bell on the toaster that tells us when our toast is done."

"It can't be," I thought, as I started to re-center the chime over the striking mechanism-- trying it out over and over in a variety of positions.

The comments continued, "Well, this will be sort of cool cause I'll wake up thinking my Eggo is ready."

"Right, right . . . or maybe we can imagine it being an English muffin one day and a bagel the next day."

I felt a sinking sense of disappointment, as my chime continued to be associated with the pedestrian things of everyday life. Soon came comparisons to our rice cooker and worse yet, the timer on the dryer, which wasn't nearly as uplifting or friendly. This wasn't at all what I was looking for.

The situation reminded me a trip we had taken to a tropical island in order to get away from the cold Midwestern winter. Sadly, our hotel room was perched closer to the main road of the island than it was to the ocean, and all that we heard from 5:30 a.m. on was the constant sound of trucks heading to their construction sites.

We complained to the hotel owner that it felt like our pillows were resting on the side of the highway, and he attempted to appease us by pointing out that this was why there was a sound machine in the room. "If you turn it to the "Ocean" setting and put the fan on high, you shouldn't hear the traffic at all."

Of course I could have just stayed in Michigan and set my iphone sleep app to "Ocean" if this was the experience I was looking for-- just as I could have set the delay setting on our toaster if what I wanted was a short, tinny ding waking me up.

Clearly, I need to continue my search for the ideal experience of getting away and waking up. Wish me luck!

More Articles...

Nov. 1, 2012:  At the Pool
Sep. 1, 2012:  Lightening Up the Seriousness of Self-Care: Tales of a New Runner
Aug. 1, 2012:  "You Don't Know How Lucky You Are"
Jul. 2, 2012:  "Waking Up"
Jun. 4, 2012:  "My Dog Smells Like a Dog . . ."
May. 1, 2012:  A Goose Comes Down
Apr. 1, 2012:  "Sorry, Mom"

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