adjective • English
occurring before breakfast.
When I came across this word I immediately thought of the White Queen’s famous quote in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass: “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” I’m sure many of us aspire to that level of productivity. Getting anything meaningful done before breakfast can seem like a pretty daunting task, especially for the night owls of the world (myself included), but in reality, a lot more can happen in that time than we give credit for. People will do anything to delay the onset of the day ahead, including going through all five stages of grief in record time and performing mathematical acrobatics worthy of a calculus professor in order to determine the optimal point at which to get out of bed. Impossible things are actually quite easy to believe in our first few minutes of wakefulness, as you will know if you’ve ever been the kind of person to keep hitting Snooze on your alarm, convincing yourself you need less and less time to get ready, until you were supposed to leave ten minutes ago. Personally, my adoption of the White Queen’s philosophy peaked in college, when I would routinely wake up hoping that some act of divine intervention had caused my 8:00 am class to be cancelled — and if it wasn’t, I would check again five minutes later.
I can’t help but feel bad for those first minutes of the day, being so universally disliked and often used for so little. Of course, things that happen before breakfast don’t have to be monumental accomplishments. Many people enjoy an antejentacular coffee or shower, for example. But if there’s a word for it, then I’d like to think that that time has more potential than just that. Maybe we’re taking our mornings for granted. Many early risers rave about the benefits of morning yoga and meditation, and though I’ve been poking fun at the mundane, early mornings can be special too. Christmas morning comes to mind for me, being the one day of the year whose celebration begins antejentacularly in my family, but the same feeling can apply to any morning when you wake up and realize it’s a special day. At least for me, those mornings are best spent enjoying them for their own sake, taking time to savor them before doing anything else (breakfast included). When a morning starts that way, I know the rest of the day will be good too; a good day starts with a good morning.
Regardless of how you spend your mornings, whether you prefer meditating or believing impossible things, the time before breakfast comes with unique rituals for all of us. Big or small, they’re an integral part of how we start our day, and that’s nothing to scoff at. Sometimes an entire day is defined by its first few minutes. We have the power to shape it any way we want. So perhaps we should keep that in mind the next time we find ourselves lying in bed wondering why we’re awake so early — and maybe instead be glad that we are.