It’s interesting to me that of the 24 hour day we tend to sleep a full third of the time. There are different arguments as to how much sleep we humans need. Some say it depends on how old you are. At the age I am now, 52, you tend to need less sleep than the age of my daughter, who is 15. Currently I sleep between 4 and 5 hours a night, which seems to do me fine. Only when I am worried about something do I find it hard to sleep well. But one thing is clear, if I have worked hard, accomplished the tasks and goals I set for myself, walked a fair bit and am warm, I can sleep soundly.
There is something very spiritual about the night. Lucy always remembers her dreams and likes to discuss them in the morning. She wonders what she is learning in her dreams. I find the night time spiritual because it feels so slow, so quiet, so still. It makes me wonder what life means apart from energy, movement and action. This is very good to appreciate as none of us can maintain our level of drive and output forever. There will come a time when we will have to face spending time alone, without deadlines and required work. That may sound like paradise at this moment in our lives but it is actually quite a jolt when it comes.
I know lots of people who retire and are miserable as they have nothing to do. Again, the complaining we do now about our schedules would seem to indicate that our lives will finally be free to do the things we’ve always wanted. But that does not always work out, when the moment comes we are often unsure what to do, who to do it with, where to start, and what exactly makes us happy. The night time, in our quiet time, in our stillness, in our sleeping dreams, in our solitude, opens up to us the present in a way the daytime masks what is to come.
People sometimes refer to their inner lives. For those not familiar with that language it is a way of being happy and engaged without the ease of social time. Introverts often excel at this while extroverts struggle. Cerebral people also do better at the inner life than people who are concrete and doers. As someone who does well with ideas and action the night time is my opportunity to reflect and think bigger thoughts. Some use night time to move into their emotions as the day was too busy and distracting for feelings to be dealt with. As someone not known for his emotional connectedness night time is no more an emotional time than the day.
But there are exceptions. The night time sky is a radiate place, a place filled with wonder and mystery. When I let go of ideas and action and surrender to the awe of the night time sky I am connected in a way the daytime never affords. The daytime is a conveyer belt of expectations whereas the night time is a canvas of space and time to be experienced in stillness and discernment.
I am typing this looking at the sky outside my house at 3 am and also at two Van Gogh prints that hang on my wall, Night Stars and Starry Night and all of this brings me a peace I never get in the bright light of the day. I am still, the house is still, the only sound are crickets and my dog snoring beside me. There is a deep sense in my spirit of knowing that I receive; that I receive dreams, that I receive wonder, that I receive a connection and that I receive a reminder of what matters when all the noise and fury of the day is over and gone. At some point in my life this night time will be the norm, day will be like night and I will need to come to grips with a different day. If I cannot be in night now I will find it difficult to be in the day then. As much as I love the day now, and I do, I will need to develop a taste and appreciation for the night now as it will become my norm.
All is quiet and still. And it is fine.