Impatiently, I lie in bed reading waiting for night to pale towards dawn. Finally, from my prone position, I can make out the dark craggy bur oak limbs only feet away from the window I peer through.

It’s early Sunday morning, a “day of rest” and yet, I am restless. Let’s face it I am messed up. My ability to sleep my usual seven to eight hours is apparently on vacation on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. Quietly I get up and dress so as not to disturb Nancy’s sleep.

My biological clock or circadian rhythm is badly shaken and the reset button seems stuck.

Each of us is equipped with an internal biological clock driven by the daily rhythm of dark and light. Sunlight inhibits the release of the hormone melatonin from the pineal gland in our brain. Mess up that natural flow and your sleep-wake cycle can take a beating. My pineal gland is still adjusted to Asian time, easing melatonin into my system, signaling sleep a half a day ahead of right now. Confusing? I agree.

What happened to my delightful shade of sleep? How did it get recalibrated to Asian time?

For roughly two weeks we explored South Korea and then the Philippines. It might sound like a covert CIA operation, rather than a vacation, in operating in the vicinities of two respective leaders who have reputations of being suspect and cruel thugs.

Rather than espionage, our pull to attend the Asian Summit was familial. We made the long flight from Minnesota to Korea to spend time with a daughter and her husband living there and her older sister and husband who flew in from San Francisco.

We spent a few days exploring the thriving, growing and immaculately clean, graffiti-free city of Seoul. We walked miles and it got to be a challenge to spy a tiny scrap of litter on the sidewalks or streets. And homelessness seemed absent. Seoul has become one of the Asian tigers of economic growth and stability. The relatively short period of rapid economic growth since the Korean Conflict (1950-53) is known as “the miracle on the Han [River].” South Korea has raced from being a developing country to a developed country.

Now, less than 48 hours upon our return to Minnesota I can see the details of the awakening woods from my bed. I give up tossing and turning and decide to step outside and greet the rising sun face to face. The chill of the dawn air splashes me awake. Slowly I walk down our driveway, pulled by a Vesper sparrow singing from its usual summer haunt near our mailbox. Less melodious, yet equally fervent in its territorial proclamation, is the rooster pheasant that crowed unseen from out in the shaggy wetland across the road.

I freeze in my tracks to take in the slow, almost oozing, flow of sunlight as it gilds the tops of the greening oaks.

I am celebrating jet lag as a gift, a reminder that these early minutes of the day are precious. I stroll out to the mailbox for the mail that we forgot to fetch the day before. The latest copy of Time magazine is among the contents. The headline on the cover is hardly restful for this gilded day of Sabbath. Warning: We are Not Ready for the Next Pandemic. These words are practically sacrilegious on this morning where the sun is highlighting the “green-coming” of May. I prefer a title such as, “Warning: Are You Ready for the Next Sunrise?”

I rather like this quiet time of the day. I am confident that the pattern of my pineal will get things straightened out. The lesson here is that I want to join the vesper sparrow and pheasant for more dawn encounters so I will accept my maladjusted circadian clock and follow Benjamin Franklin’s credo: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

Filed under: Uncategorized