What is it that gets us going? 

By Alan S. Chartock | December 22, 2022

But wait! What is it that gets us going?

Coffee is an extraordinary starter each morning. If you actually take the time to taste it and really analyze what you are putting in your system, you may find that it really is not that good, as in “tasty.” You may be drinking it for its effect as opposed to its taste. It’s no secret that the stuff boosts your energy and helps get you started. Just think about the nice warm feeling you get just holding the cup. I know that coffee is one way to get yourself going. Along with coffee, an initial burst of exercise takes you from the stupor of sleep to the body of a functioning human being. We all experience that “getting started” time, after you have turned the key in the bodily ignition. Your head is the issue. It is your head that sends the body the message that there is work to do. If your head doesn’t act as your ignition, nothing will. When you hit the bed the night before, you may feel hunger but just think about the dissonance between the hunger you feel at night and what you feel in the morning. Some folks rub their eyes and that touch provides starter material. If you rub too hard, you may be sorry. Like in “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” you have to do it just right.

Of course, there are other things that may help you getting started. For example, each person has a place on their body that you can scratch to provide that perfect relief. In my case, it is under my right shoulder blade and, for some reason, has always been there. If you scratch too hard you may hurt yourself but if you don’t scratch hard enough you will be denied relief. We need to know which places to scratch or not scratch. This is why it is so important in life to have a partner who knows exactly where to scratch and at precisely what level of intensity. You know exactly what I mean when I reference that spot under your right shoulder blade.

I did mention that initial exercise that along with coffee can go a long way toward improving your reentry into the world. Many years ago, I learned about someone in the space program known as a “reentry expediter.” This was the person whose job it was to bring you back from space into earth’s atmosphere. There are many different kinds of “atmosphere” that we have to get back into. Surely you know that when you arise in the morning and try to get going, as my wonderful Ph.D. Advisor, Dr. Elena Padilla once told me, “Chartock, you better, you just better, do this or that.” She certainly knew that my personal reentry problems were severe. If you are reading this now you will be able to relate to your own personal “reentry issues.” Think about coming back from a wonderful vacation and needing to get up for work the next day. Right? Certainly, each of us has our own personal reentry problems, whether they are from the moment you open your eyes and realize how discombobulated you feel, to recovery from a personal relationship that has gone bad, to the grief of losing someone dear to you. You know exactly what I mean when I tell you that you have to find a way to get back to that place from whence you came. Those of us who are fortunate to have dear friends or life partners know that once you leave that special place in a relationship that provides you with a safe harbor, you can quickly find yourself in deep trouble. That’s when you really need an experienced reentry expediter.

Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected].