… yes it is a real word.

I cannot believe I have awakened all these mornings of my adult life without ever having known the world “matutolypea.” It comes from the Latin matuta the goddess of the dawn, and the Greek lype which means “grief or sorrow.” What a combination! “The goddess of dawn” who brings with her “grief or sorrow”!

Tiffany Watt Smith in The Book of Human Emotions describes matutolypea saying,

The alarm clock trills, the dawn slips in through the curtains, and we wake up overcome with misery and bad temper. It’s not the “getting out of bed on the wrong side.” It’s the much more important-sounding ‘matutolypea.’ …. “morning sorrow.”

I wake up most mornings with some version of matutolypea grinding around inside my head. Some days it is more troublesome, some days less. There are occasional mornings when I am barely aware of the presence of this demented demon in my head. But it is never far from the pillow as the light begins to dawn outside my window.

I awaken with anxiety, fear, turmoil, remorse. I awaken worrying about what could have been, should have been, might have been. My brain churns over what I said that I should not have said, or did not say that I should have said. I fret about lost opportunities, roads not taken, and time wasted. I lie there in an early morning fog, churning, strategizing, scheming, worrying, wondering how I can get the world under control.

The really interesting thing I have learned over the years of sharing my early mornings with matutolypea, is that, almost invariably, once my feet find my slippers on the floor beside my bed and I begin to make my way downstairs, matutolypea begins to diminish. I sense the whiff of darkness that it carries, but it no longer dominates as it did in the fuzzy never-land between waking and being fully awake.

This is important for me to see. Matutolypea is an automatic mind-game played in my brain. It is not reality. Most of its scenarios are, at least irrelevant, if not outright lies. The problem with those first waking moments of the morning is that my ability to look away from these endless dark stories is diminished. As my day begins to gain a little focus and I move towards some small shreds of purpose, I know that these dark rumours of desperation, will fade. They will start to lack the power to paralyze that kept me in bad past when I should have roused myself. They are simply stories that run in my brain like an endless feedback loop, mindlessly spinning out their tales of delusion.

As the day progresses, I am more and more able to glance away from matutolypea and allow space for the light to get in.

The prophet Isaiah pointed to the antidote to matutolypea when he encouraged the people of Israel:

O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the Lord! (Isaiah 2:5)

It is possible to awaken throughout the day to consciousness of the light. There is beauty and truth at every corner in the road when I am able to see. The more I attend to this light, the more it grows in my awareness. The voice of truth that speaks more deeply than matutolypea is never entirely silent. I know the sound of that voice. When I listen carefully, my ability to hear the faint sound of its gentle tones grows and deepens.

There are moments certainly during the day when a daytime version of matutolypea does rear its ugly head. But when I can see that these moments are merely the daytime version of matutolypea’s illusions, they lose their edge. Their power to unhinge my day is lessened by seeing the truth, that these dark visions have no ultimate reality. They are nothing but stories that my brain spins in an attempt to make sense of life, or gain some illusion of control over the chaos that seems to lurk just beneath the surface.

Matutolypea is the “goddess of dawn” because she emerges from that darkness where I face the reality that I do not control the forces of life. She lurks in that uncertain frightening place where I lose touch with my true identity. But, the more I point my feet in the direction of light, the more I am freed from being the victim of matutolypea. The light seems to be closer at hand and, when the darkness encroaches again, it is easier to find my ground and walk with some degree of confidence into the truth that exists beyond all the tales of woe my brain constantly spins.