Saturday, September 3, 2016

Morning Woes

Columbia Spy is privileged to publish several articles by Columbia native Mike Clark, with permission of the author. The essays were previously published in The Globe Leader and 50-plus Senior News and will continue to be reprinted in the Spy over the next few weeks.

Morning Woes
by Mike Clark

I wake up between 2:30 and 4 o'clock almost every morning. A force inside my head flips a switch, lights go on, and rollers and gears begin to turn. It's like the start-up shift in a manufacturing plant. As the minutes slowly pass, the lights get brighter, the sounds inside become cacophonous, and all attempts to sleep are futile.

Then the neuronal network within my normally sedate noggin, fires away at full speed to conjure all kinds of worriment that I think should be immediately considered. Problems go back and forth as though going through a cerebral rolling mill, and each problem is forged into smaller, more detailed elements that demand more intense scrutiny with each pass.

Concrete solutions to some problems are so elusive that I must store them in my subconscious until the next morning--or even the morning after that. And they will again appear between 2:30 and 4 a.m. to bedevil me.

It is necessary, then, to try to solve these problems as soon as possible before they pile up on all the other woes waiting to steal my sleep. I am too often confounded, and the frustration exacerbates my troubles.

My wife tends to stir knowingly when I'm in the “worry” mode. She usually says nothing until about 6 a.m. when I stumble downstairs, bleary-eyed and unsteady.

I know that my tossing and turning keeps her from sleeping soundly, which makes me worry even more. She has to go to work in the morning. I, on the other hand, can take a nap during the day to recover from my sleeplessness, which can create some resentment.

I find it odd that my wife doesn't worry much about anything. And that often drives me crazy; I worry about why she doesn't worry. Oh, she ponders over the same things that worry me--she just does not let those thoughts devolve into a condition of hyperventilation like I do.

What are some of the things I worry about? I'll tell you. But, keep in mind that the following is far from a comprehensive list. There isn't enough space in this column to elaborate on all of my vexations.

For example, my roof is almost twenty-years-old. Each time there is a downpour that lasts more than several minutes, I roam around the house looking for leaks. So far, so good. But should I replace this roof soon? Will it hold up for a couple more years? I forget what the life was on the shingles I bought. Was it twenty years? Or maybe it was twenty-five. If I could just find the original contract, maybe I could stop worrying. However, maybe I would worry more if I found the answer.

I'm beginning to wonder how long a car with 161,000 miles on it will continue to start up and take me where I need to go. I have put more than a carload of money into repairs for the thing, believing that it is more desirable than four years (or more) of car payments. Whenever I hear an unusual noise under the hood, I worry. Should I just go ahead and strap myself with car payments?

Our water heater started to leak several months ago. I installed it myself and it lasted much longer than it was supposed to. But this time around, I decided to have somebody else do the installation. I also installed a new garbage disposal unit and a new dishwasher many years ago. I had the disposal replaced last year by a plumber. So, when will the dishwasher go on the fritz? I cross my fingers and continue to worry on that one.

When it finally goes out, I'll have to pay someone else to install the new one. Can you say “expensive”?

Two of my grandchildren moved to another state back in June. It was sudden and unexpected, and I am still disheartened by it. I miss them terribly.

I am always wondering if they are adjusting to their new digs? Are they happy? Are they making friends? Are they doing well in their new school? They call, and I am reassured that all is well. My wife takes them at their word. Still, I worry.

And so it goes until the bright lights and noise inside my head subside, and I slowly go back to sleep for what remains of the time left before the alarm goes off.

My wife reminds me that in all of our years together, things have always worked out. Then I worry about a possible exception.

For the new year ahead, I'm going to have to find ways to banish my morning woes. After all, my wife really needs her sleep.

Happy New Year.

Mike Clark writes a regular column for The Globe Leader newspaper in New Wilmington, Pa. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior/Applied Psychology from Albright College. Mike lives outside Columbia, Pa., and can be contacted at


  1. Each time I read Mike's stories I think, oh that's the best one yet, but this one is really great too! Thanks for sharing them!

  2. Great Reading....keep it up!!

  3. And I thought I was the only one awake and worrying at that hour!