Alarm clocks have a pretty straightforward job: to wake us up. I'm not saying it is an easy job, just that it is well defined. The actual waking up part requires something from us.
For a stretch I was an always early morning runner. My record in idiocy was meeting a friend at 3:30am to go run 20 miles before work. I still run mostly mornings, and I am still a morning person, but when the alarm clock goes off that early, we look at each other, the clock and I, and nod, or chuckle, and go back to bed.
It's funny, people's alarm clocks can be very different. You might be tuned to the sunrise, it might be beans grinding in a coffee pot, it could be a wet dog nose and wagging tail in your face. We've all got different ways to wake up.
But the kind of alarm clock in my mind this morning is not the kind that wakes us up in the morning. It's the kind that wakes us up in life. Where we find ourselves looking around, rubbing the sleep out of our eyes (lives), and wondering, hey, how the fu** did I get here?
And those kind of alarm clocks, the life alarm clocks, they take a response on our part as well. Just because they go off, doesn't mean we wake up. Life alarm clocks. Could be a religious awakening. Could be a failed marriage or relationship. Could be the death of someone we love. Could be the loss of a job, or a move to somewhere new. The birth of a child. Life alarm clocks come in all shapes, sizes, and times.
Life alarm clocks, if we hear them, and we act, can remind us we are alive. And to live. If you need a way to remember it, I'd go with a Bob Marley mantra. Bob won't steer you wrong.
I'm in the middle of reading Ray Bradbury's "Dandelion Wine," which was described to me by a well-read friend as the ultimate summer book. She is not wrong in her declaration. It's the most dense, beautiful, coming of age in a small town, learning to be alive book I've come across. I've been a Bradbury fan since "Fahrenheit 451," but haven't gone back and read more of him. And I own "Dandelion Wine." So I started following the life and times of Douglas Spaulding, who is a semi-veiled version of Bradbury. Very early on in the book he has an epiphany. Outside, picking grapes and wrestling with his brother, it hits him. He opens an eye:
And everything, absolutely everything was there.
The world, like a great iris of an even more gigantic eye, which has also just opened and stretched out to encompass everything, stared back at him.
And he knew what it was that had leaped upon him to stay and would not run away now.
I'm alive, he thought.
There are life alarm clocks going off everyday for us. If we listen. And we wake up. And live.