In The Wee Small Hours

By on Aug 23, 2014 in Blog Posts | 0 comments

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My grandmother on my mom’s side has chronic fatigue syndrome. She sleeps most of the day and stays up well into the night. Grandma Carter was a night owl as well, and so am I. At certain times in my life, when a job or a girlfriend’s schedule dictated it, I’ve modified my sleep schedule. After a few days of adjustment I can be a fairly productive human being, but I always revert back to my natural state.

It’s rare that my body is ready for sleep until one or two o’clock in the morning and it prefers to remain that way until nine or ten. I have the luxury of being able to accommodate it and have recently taken the additional step of completely muting my phone at all times so as not to be disturbed. I miss the occasional phone call, but people rarely complain. My clients sometimes make jokes about my odd hours.

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Search Google images for “sexy creature of the night” and this is what you get. Nailed it.

Being a creature of the night sounds sexy, but there is something lugubrious about it. The human animal is meant to rise and fall with the sun and it is only through modern conveniences that we can circumvent nature and remain productive. It’s no wonder that the lyrics to many songs reference the middle of the night as being the most difficult. One popular example comes from that uplifting American standard “In The Wee Small Hours of The Morning“:

In the wee small hours of the morning
While the whole wide world is fast asleep
You lie awake and think about the girl
And never, ever think of counting sheep

When your lonely heart has learned its lesson
You’d be hers if only she would call
In the wee small hours of the morning
That’s the time you miss her most of all

When we rise in the morning we’re rarely as lonely as when we went to sleep. Why is seeing the other half of your bed empty more painful at the end of the day than at the beginning?

Perhaps it’s because when you go to sleep alone you know you’re going to wake up alone. However, when you wake up alone, the day is new. There are endless possibilities and the end of the day seems very far away, if you consider it at all. Alan Watts wrote “Human beings appear to be happy just so long as they have a future to which they can look forward—whether it be a ‘good time’ tomorrow or an everlasting life beyond the grave” (The Wisdom of Insecurity).

It’s late at night, when all is quiet and no one is asking anything more of us for the day, that we consider our future most deeply. These thoughts discourage sleep and we have to distract ourselves with things like sugarplums and sheep. But sometimes, just before sleep comes, as your mind settles and your eyelids become heavy, there is peace. The stillness that is sought during meditation but so rarely achieved. In those few moments you’re not longer concerned with happiness or sadness. Loneliness fades and your future no longer exists. You simply are, calmly, in stillness, present.