Here’s to the dreamers.
Who come alive in the night and fall asleep to the sound of the waking birds.
To the whiskey drinkers. The novel writers. The deep thinkers.
To those who would rather feel their way through the dark than judge their own reflections in the light.
To the conspiring traveler and the late night gambler.
To the next Bukowski, Hemingway and Thompson.
And to anyone who’s ever sat up under the light of the moon, strumming a set of strings.
To the truth seekers and the songwriters.
To the Holden Caulfields, who’ve been lost in their own city.
To the stargazers and the skinny dippers.
to torn jeans and bare feet on a moonlit shore.
Here’s to 2 AM.
In this hour, we’re in good company.
(n.) Love of darkness or night, finding relaxation or comfort in the darkness.
I’ve always enjoyed feeling my way around in the dark.
It usually starts off as a struggle or at least a minor calamity, but I find that in the end it’s the most efficient way to accomplish something with deeper understanding.
If you really want to get good at something, learn how to do it in the dark first. When the lights do come on you’ll be able to dazzle your audience with your eyes closed.
You’ll always learn the most by being thrown into things you think you’re not ready for. Not surprisingly, we learn the most when we know the least.
I used to know how to read sheet music. All of what I know how to play today came from listening, watching and feeling it out. These are the pieces I’ll never forget how to play.
I’ve also owned countless French and Italian language and grammar books, all of which have been forgotten in the back of a dusty bookshelf. The most memorable lessons in language learning have come from conversations with interesting people, in most of which I’ve made embarrassing mistakes.
I’ve personally never been able to sit up by lamplight following instructions on how to assemble an Ikea coffee table or a new toy for my niece to climb on.
Don’t tell me how to do it. Let me feel it out. Let me understand it.
Keep me in the dark and let me find my own way.
“Night is purer than day, it is better for thinking and loving and dreaming.” – Elie Wiesel
And perhaps this is why I’ve always loved the night.
I’ve always felt most competent at night as opposed to day.
I do my best work at this time. I am truest self in the darkest hours.
I can find inspiration alone in a dimly lit room, scented with coconut and cake batter candles, in the anger of a drunken face that’s just realized they’ve missed last call at the bar, or even in a twenty-four hour pharmacy among exhausted new parents hesitating to return home to a teething child.
Anyone who’s awake past twelve AM has a story to tell, I’m sure of it.
“At night everything is more intense, more true.”
– Elie Wiesel
Often I’ve wondered what was wrong with me.
What causes me to be so restless at night?
What could possess me to stay awake until four in the morning slowly, steadily picking out the simplest notes of Moonlight Sonata on a guitar, that after months of neglect, I have no business touching.
Why do I hold recording the weekend’s events in a leather bound journal above sleep, sanity and sometimes a decently functioning immune system?
Why do I sleep soundly only when the rest of the world is buzzing on coffee, en route of their morning commutes?
But to me, music sounds better at night, when it’s easier to feel.
Long drives to nowhere are better then too, when the dark casts a shadow over the doubt that you still know where you’re going.
I can think more clearly and deeper under the gentle glow of the moon as opposed to the blinding glare of the sun.
And there’s something about these magic hours of the early morning that take reading to another level. When the Scottish highlands, or the battles of WWII soldiers are not just stories or scenes of recorded history but something that feels real and possible to experience, even today.
“ I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day” – Vincent Van Gogh
We’re all united under the moon.
In mythology from nearly every ancient civilization the moon has been considered both a giver and taker of life, a man and woman, a blessing and curse with both a light and dark side.
It has been considered to be mysterious, powerful and sometimes even dangerous, yet man has never been able to keep his eyes from it. From our different corners of the world we were all looking up at it, wondering what might be it’s purpose and making up stories to explain one, staring through telescopes and devising plans to reach and conquer it.
It has been said to have the power to control the tides, turn women into lunatics and men into beasts.
It doesn’t feel right to sleep through the presence of something like that, at least not without first admiring it.
“We are all like the bright moon, we still have our darker side”
– Khalil Gibran
There are times when I couldn’t quite understand why going to sleep at night gave me the overwhelming sense of missing out on the world, even if it meant I would only be sitting up alone in my room until sunrise.
There are times when I felt that by running late to class almost every day and dragging through the day as a zombie meant I would never be able to fully and efficiently function in society.
So of course, I did what I had done so many times before. Sitting up surrounded by books and articles scattered across my bed, I dove into my late night/early morning research.
Often this scene corresponds with a paper that is due just on the other side of the sunrise. This time it was understanding something for myself.
Through interviews, quotes and more moon mythology, studies on night owls vs. morning larks and through just sheer evidence that are the things that have been created in the night, I found that I was in good company.
Would Charles Bukowski have been able to write some of the most rawly written and disturbingly honest pieces had he not had the refuge of a dark night and a bottle of Whiskey?
Would James Joyce have been able to write so genuinely about the depravity and thrill that he found in Dublin’s red light district had he not been able to sneak away to it in the night?
What would have become of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hunter S. Thompson had they not had the cloak of a dark and silent night under which they could pour their expository truths of the American Dream into novels?
How many entire records would be missing from the shelves had so many bands not spent restless nights that grew into restless mornings composing in the studio?
I found that night owls are known to have been some of the most creative, intelligent and successful people that the world has ever known.
Who knows who else is out there right now, sitting up at 2 AM studying for a degree which will lead them to a cure for cancer, planning the trip of a lifetime to feed and educate third world children, or simply finishing up the next best seller your mom will bring home from book club next month.
The best thing about night, we don’t know what else is out there.
“There is a moon inside every human being. Learn to be companions with it.”
It is true that some things are meant to be kept in the dark; left undisturbed, unseen and undiscovered, but night should not be dismissed simply as a time for sleep.
The night is much too alive not to be lit up by our sparklers, bonfires and headlights.
So the next time you find yourself awake at 2 AM with a head full of thoughts, half a bottle of wine or a nearly finished manuscript, keep going.
Next time you’re kept awake by a pair of lips in a pitch black bedroom, an over due research paper or simply can’t sleep without listening to that song one more time, though you know you’ll regret it in the morning, don’t worry.
Don’t feel alone in the night.
You’re in good company.
“I have loved the stars to fondly to be fearful of the night.”
– Sarah Williams
Thanks for reading everyone!
This is something I started for a creative writing class I took while in Australia, while it’s not directly about traveling, it has a lot to do with it since I’ve had some of my best nights ever abroad and in strange places.
I’d love to hear feedback, as always this is a work in progress.
Also, I’d be interested to hear who’s out there with me, are you a night owl or a morning lark?