The night time is the right time


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I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.

~Vincent Van Gogh

I agree with you, Mr. Van Gogh. I do love your richly colored masterpiece, “Starry Night.” I think I understand why you painted that picture. If one can ever understand a man who sliced off part of his ear.

I’m living in my own starry night. I’m a hardcore night owl. No matter what I do, I can’t change my feathers and fly with the early birds.

Against the grain, in opposition to mainstream life, I do things like arrive at the gym to exercise at 11 p.m.; begin the laundry at midnight; engage in all-night movie-watching marathons; pound the keyboards until dawn; plow through books; flip through photo albums; take on big projects — all long after everyone else in the house has surrendered their souls to sleep.

If I’m away from the city, I’ll want to spread out a blanket and gaze up at the sky to count falling stars and look for aurora borealis. I’ll want to walk at night — preferably along a shore or on familiar roads or paths in the Michigan woods. I’m not so crazy about doing this in the city unless I’m with others. I’m scared to death of packs of feral dogs.

Like the zombies and vampires, I come alive after sunset. Even if I’ve dragged myself through a day, at dusk I feel renewed energy pulse through my veins.  I love to keep the lights low and burn candles instead. I like the solitude and freedom that comes with a quiet house at night. It is only then that I can move about undisturbed. Neither the phone nor the doorbell sounds at night. Requests for service are nearly nonexistent.

I spent much of my career on night-shift duty. It would be easy to say that experience explains this behavior. But it doesn’t. I was born a night owl and as a young person challenged my bed times and curfews.

I do not dislike the morning, with its soft light, shimmering dew and birdsong. It’s the midday that gets me. There is an expanse between caffeine withdrawal and sunset that can only be described as something to endure. This I do not understand. Is it the weight of a day’s expectations bearing down?

Perhaps I should move to Spain, where I could have my sunrises, caffeine fixes and a few productive hours before retreating for a siesta grande. Then, when the sun slanted through the blinds, I’d rise and resume my activity into the wee hours. What a life that would be.

What about you? Are you a night owl or an early bird?

Whoever thinks of going to bed before twelve o’clock is a scoundrel.

~Samuel Johnson

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6 thoughts on “The night time is the right time

  1. I’m totally with you on that torturous time slot: for me it’s around 2pm until sunset – when I become my very own momzombie… it doesn’t seem to matter what time I go to bed or whether I fit in a nap beforehand, it’s always the same.

  2. Wow. You write so eloquently about your night owl-ism. I used to be a night owl, but it wasn’t nearly as picturesque. More along the lines of college parties, drinking until 4 AM, and late-night Burger King runs.

    These days, I’m an early bird. I get nothing done after 4 PM. I love to go to bed early, preferably, in the summer, when it’s still light out. That must make you cringe!

  3. I’m such a night owl. Which makes my choice of career an odd one. My children also have an annoying habit of waking up WAY too early, which makes regular work days easier but weekends and vacations rather nightmarish.

    I live on coffee and about four hours’ sleep. Good combination, right?

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