Like the rest of my family, I have always been more of a night person. I suppose that is another trait to be added to my long list of unorthodox behaviours. From the time we are young, we are expected to rise with the sun. We are molded into morning people, with school and even extracurricular activities taking place in the early hours. This is all done with the intention of preparing us for the working world, where we will be required to abide by the 9-5 way of life.
We are scolded for going to bed late and made to feel indolent and even guilty if we sleep in later than the status quo. I cannot even count the amount of times I have been reprimanded for "wasting the day". The morning people in my life do not seem to understand how I can remain peacefully enthralled in somnolent euphoria, while the world carries on spinning around me. I can honestly say that I've rarely felt like a day was wasted. Generally, my epic sleep-ins are the product of a late night, which in my world, wins every time. Not because I am lazy or even because it better corresponds with my body's natural clock, but because nighttime is simply my time. Don't get me wrong, I love daytime; the way it fades in and then out, ever so gracefully, a masterpiece of technicolor. The way the sun warms the skin, leaving but a rubescent reminder of the gentle encounter. The way the wind taunts the trees, oscillating their emerald splendor back and forth. The way each ray of light, as it hits the ocean at an alternate angle, reveals a novel shade of turquoise. The song of the birds, faintly overheard in the background, like a brilliantly handpicked movie soundtrack. The vibrance all around, colors bursting from each flower, as though pigmented by a celestial paintbrush. It is beautiful, there is no doubt about that.
The day is beautiful in a way similar to that in which physical traits on a person are beautiful. It is beautiful in the way the conventional, the known, the comfortable is beautiful. It has no secrets, it holds no mysteries, it simply is as it is. Revelling in the light synonymous with its presence, it demands that its beauty be noticed.
The night though. The night is mesmerizing in an unforeseen way. Its beauty is not as easily detectable, yet there is something entrancing about it. It does not draw us in the same way the day does. It is more timid, less self-assured, aware that not everyone will appreciate what it has to offer. Only those willing to open their eyes in an entirely different manner can risk knowing the allure of its hidden charm. When you find it though, that hidden magic, oh when you find it, you understand.
It has always felt as though we share a secret, the night and I. While most sleep soundly, convinced that darkness brings with it stillness, the night is alive with fire and magic. I feel lucky that it shares that hidden side of itself with me. In return, I do the same. Counterintuitive perhaps, but in the darkest hours, things have always seemed more clear, more sensical. Unclouded by the scrutiny of the harsh daylight, my thoughts are free to unravel like balls of yarn rolling down stairwells. In the stillness of the night, I can better hear the pounding of my heart and the music in my mind and the yearning in my soul. Not only does the night allow us to find ourselves, we also often encounter kindred spirits, who like us, are humbled by the stillness of the night. Its ability to bring down our walls sparks connections among even the most unlikely of friends. There, in the dark, our inhibitions melting away like morning frost beneath the sun's fervor, we lower our guards and we are exactly as we are; raw, unfiltered, unedited.
Sometimes it saddens me that the night is so misunderstood. Maybe it is due to its consanguinity with darkness, a concept feared by many. I think that we fear darkness for we are afraid that we will lose and then find ourselves somewhere among the shadows. Perhaps we fear the darkness for in its depths, unable to see around us, we are forced to look within ourselves. In the dark, we cannot hide from the vulnerability dwelling beneath the surface of our normally indomitable façades. Sometimes that encounter is a stark revelation. It is often incongruous with who we think we are during the light hours, when raw emotions are obscured by the luminescent veil of the sun.
Somehow, in the absence of blinding lights and radiant colors, our innermost feelings are more fervent than ever. What were once dull, latent sentiments are suddenly tempestuous, corybantic emotions, raging like wildfires, demanding to be noticed. They, like the night, devoid of the day's disparaging glances, are bare, finally free to exist as they are. The night does not hold you in a safe embrace, it does not gently warm your skin, it does not embellish your reality with colorful distractions; it is cold, it is real, it is raw. It has always challenged me, threatened me, pushed me. It has brought me face to face with those demons I am unable to confront by day. It has opened my eyes to my innermost thoughts and feelings. It has urged me to dig deeper within and find answers to even the most perplexing questions of my existence. It has been the backdrop to the beginning and deepening of my most meaningful relationships as well as to my most powerful introspections.
"It is not until we are lost that we begin to find ourselves".- Henry David Thoreau
The great Thoreau understood the importance of losing oneself. The night allows me to do just that. I might miss that sunrise jog or the early bird special but it is a small price to pay for the renewed sense of serenity and equilibrium within me upon rising. Star-filled nights of uncensored conversations, that turn into mornings with good friends. Moonlit thought sessions, spent delving into untapped realms of self-discovery. Regardless of how the night is spent, when the sun rises out of a decreasingly monochromatic sky, it finds me different than I was when it perished into the horizon. As dawn breaks on another day and the world begins surfacing from its slumberous bliss, I am changed. I have been lost, weak, honest, real and am now, once again found.
Mexico City, February 2015.