And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Music of the Night

photo cheerfully stolen from Andy Martin on Flickr....

Night has always played a big part in my life. As a child, it signaled the end of a day of play. Dad worked nights, and there was a pesty wolf~man that lived under my bed just waiting for my little feet to hit the floor so he could grab my ankles and drag me down into the Underworld. Night was not a good time. On the other hand, Dad used to take us out to look at the stars at night. That was always fun.

When I got a little older, I realised that night could be a lot of fun. Bonfires were at night, and most parties, too. I always met the most interesting people at night. I suppose they were all losers, since very few of them had jobs or anything useful to do with the daylight hours, but they were all so different from the folks I met during the day. I found beauty in the soft darkness, in the way the world seemed to slow down at night. I loved the glittery twinkle of stars and the surprisingly bright light of a full moon. It seemed that so many wonderful things were possible at night, and the air shimmered with magic. When I graduated, I purposely got a job working second shift so that I could enjoy the silence of the hours between dusk and dawn.

Then my depression reared its ugly head, and night became my security blanket. I would spend my days counting the seconds until the sun would drop below the horizon and the world would sleep. Once night fell, I felt safe. It was a time of peace, of silence. It was the only time I could relax even the slightest bit. There was no way I could disappoint anyone or mess anything up while I was alone in the dark. Many nights I would lie awake, sure that if I just kept my eyes open the next day would not be able to come. I lived in terror of the dawn and all the expectations each day brought.

Thankfully, nothing lasts forever. As my life changed, so did my relationship with the night. I got a job working during the day, and suddenly night time became desirable because it was the time when I could finally rest. At this point I was a single mom, and though my folks were an amazing help (I seriously wouldn't have been able to do it without them) I was beyond exhausted every day. Eventually, I got to the point where I was in bed by 9pm and would sleep until 6am. I didn't see much of the night hours, but I still loved them. Big Sprout was asleep at night, and the silence was a balm on my frazzled nerves. Weekends were my time to enjoy the darkness, sitting by the light of a single candle and writing in one of my many journals. Night became the time when I was allowed to dream, to plan, to believe in hope.

Eventually, I met and married Mr. Barefoot. I needed to change jobs for financial reasons, and got my position at the present Job #1. Once again, I found myself living my life in darkness and my relationship with the night changing. I both dread and look forward to it. I still enjoy the silence when all the world sleeps, and on nights like last night I am still awed by the beauty of bare trees in the moonlight. But the isolation of living my life in the shadows can be oppressive. I also find that my mind works overtime after dark. Without the distractions provided by other people being around, the voices in my head quickly overpower me. I often find myself wallowing in self~pity. I do my best to provide my own distractions, but nothing works so well as children needing constant attention and household chores that never seem to be done. On the other hand, being alone all night also gives me the opportunity to really think things through. I tend to react all out of proportion to issues in my life, and having many uninterrupted hours during the night allows me to do "reality checks" to see if I am really justified in my feelings. I have the unusual honor of being awake for both sunset and sunrise every day all year long. Not too many folks can say that, and I can honestly say that I have seen some of the most breathtaking "sky~scenes" because of this. I can watch the deer graze out the back door at work, and know intimately the call of every owl in the neighborhood.

There isn't a point to this story, in case you are waiting for it. These are just the thoughts I had last night while I was shivering out on the front stoop at work and watching the moon glide across the sky.

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