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Waking up at 7 a.m.

I always tell my friends that no matter how late I sleep the night before, most of the time I would wake up at 7 in the morning the day after. Back in college, since I had 7 a.m. classes, I trained my body to get up one or two hours before that time so I would have ample time to prepare. On days that did not require me to get up early, I would still wake up before or exactly at 7 a.m. even if I did not set my phone alarm. After waking, I would always be in a rush, like clockwork. I prepared my cup of coffee, listened to or watched the morning newscasts, checked my social media feeds and emails, then proceeded to do whatever task of the day I needed to accomplish. I was proud of this routine because I was able to maintain it even when I had the occasional vacation or travel, and even on weekends.

But the prolonged lockdown became a game-changer. Returning home from Metro Manila because of the lockdown felt like a normal two-day weekend for me, until it lasted for a month and more, bringing me to my longest stay at home since going to college. During the first months of the lockdown, I maintained the habit of waking up before 7 a.m. Only this time, the routine involved more household chores, which would then propel me to do my academic tasks, hobbies such as reading and writing, and passion projects.

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Months passed and, day in and day out, there was only more of the same, the only difference being the date and day that changed, the additional coronavirus cases, and twisted pronouncements from the government. The days turned bland, such that I didn’t recognize anymore the difference between Monday and Friday, between October and December.

Although I keep myself preoccupied these days, reading the books I bought from online sale events, watching another episode of a series on Netflix, or doing my academic backlog, motivation has been getting thinner and thinner. When you expect more of the same, the moment you open your eyes in the morning and the next, it gets harder and harder to kick off another day.

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In a bygone era before the lockdown when masks were not mandatory and travel was not restricted, the thrill of going to new places, attending live events, meeting new people, and venturing into the unknown made the dull days more exciting. The coronavirus and the sloppy response to it have not only taken our liberties away, but have also taken lives, rendered people jobless, and changed our way of life from the most mundane to the level of global economies.

There are days when waking up is easy, but getting out of bed seems more of a toil than ever. There are days when all I can do is pretend to rest while anxiously worrying about the piling tasks I need to do. It takes an ample amount of courage to face the day that will turn out the same as the previous ones, while also thinking that the next is no different. It takes slow acceptance to finally embrace the lost opportunities, the lost moments, those could-have-beens gone into the imagination. More importantly, it takes a great deal of patience for us to bear the kind of response the government is making, even as we’ve gone almost a year into the community quarantine. And it takes humility for us to realize that, at any given moment, we can all be wiped out from the face of the Earth—just as plagues like this have attempted to do had it not been for improvements in science from the time of the Greek philosophers.

Lately, I have not been waking up at 7 a.m. Instead, I would wake up at 7:30 or 8 a.m., even as late as 10 a.m., only to rush through my morning habits and feel regretful after. The days go by, and they are more of the same. But I do not bemoan now. I take things slow, even when I am hesitant at times. There are still days when getting up feels so much heavier that the only choice left is to remain in bed and pretend to take a rest. There are good and bad days—and some are neither. And it is okay.

The next days are not bound to be easy as I scramble to write my research proposal. I still hope I can go back to the university to give myself a sense of normalcy. There will be hard days. There will be tough days. There will be days that I feel I am losing my motivation and passion for the things I do and yearn for. Still, I will continue to be in search of better days. They are not usually the sunny ones when the sun is shining brightly.

A ray of hope that things will get better should be enough. By then, I would surely be waking up before 7 a.m. again to see it.

May we always find the passion to get up, liberate ourselves from what holds us back, and slowly find that better days are coming.

—————-

Edward Joseph H. Maguindayao, 23, is a graduate student at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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