I trudge home, wishing to be in bed asleep. Suddenly anxiety joins the fatigue- malaise. But a voice tells me the specific reason. It’s because the sun isn’t here.
You’re right. But it’s not just the light that’s missing. It’s the energy, and all the commotion about it- trees jostling into position as if catching a bouquet, entire oceans molting, countless reptiles clambering onto rocks- in the absence of this, you feel a little down. Something’s missing.
You can replace the light with street lights, desk lamps, flashlights, and computer screens, but there’s no substitute for the loss of energy. Actually, there once was a substitute- the stars- but you can’t see those because of all the street lights, desk lamps, flashlights, and computer screens… keeping you awake. We’ve traded night for perpetual day.
That’s the problem. We know what would happen if the sun’s energy were constant- jungles would wilt and seas become deserts. What then with the constant visibility? We lack the regenerating power of- blindness.
Now, let me back up and explain why a negative emotion being explained by the absence of the sun is revelatory in the first place. To me.
It really shouldn’t be- the basic thread throughout western society is the division between light (good) and dark (bad). Test this out, the next time you’re watching a movie. Invariably, the villain is darker than the hero. Unless, of course, he is Russian or serpentine by nature.
But I have, in my way, aligned myself with the forces of night. For years I took pride in what I believed to be a nocturnal existence.
As a putative night owl, my sleep cycle began (ended) with waking up early to get to school. There was the distinct feeling of needing to sleep for two or three more hours. During the first two classes I’d fall asleep with little or no control. I’d be low on energy throughout the morning until jolted by sugar or adrenaline. Then later I’d crash. Coming home to “free time” I’d find some form of entertainment stimulating enough to keep me awake but not so much as to require serious attention. Later I’d stay up late to finish work I had neglected and/or consumed substances, until 3ish when seriously Gopher it’s time to get to bed you’ve got to wake up early. For seven years, this was my schedule.
I realize, now, that my circadian rhythm was out of whack because of this subtle distinction. School (and work, for that matter) do not explicitly tell you when you have to go to bed. They only require you to show up at a certain time, which means you must wake up an hour before then. At night, you can go to bed whenever you want. I seized that. Night-time was the right-time, my time to be free, enjoy solitude, and escape the schedule. But, implicitly, they also control when you go to bed. Because, you have to perform.
It’s obvious enough that I didn’t perform as well as I could during the day. But, just as I was never fully awake, I was never fully asleep. I thought I could transcend the dichotomy of night and day. But in not giving it the respect it deserves, I lived life pretty half-assed, both waking and not.
Experts know dreaming is 100% essential for survival. But no one knows why, exactly. It’s greater than simply resting our bodies. And it’s not like your brain gets to rest- it’s more active during R.E.M.
Becoming again a diurnal animal, for me, does not mean placing all the emphasis on the day time. It means respecting the duality of this planet. Night has its function, as does day. Going to bed early isn’t about showing up to work ready to perform (although that’s a perk). It’s about feeding your soul its daily portion of unconsciousness.
It’s known that some dreams are just your brain processing experiences from the day before. I suggest that conscious thoughts and feelings are also your brain processing experiences from last night’s dream. They go back and forth, tackling this absurd mystery from two opposite directions.