March 25, 2020
"The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star."
-- Henry David Thoreau
It's 4 AM.
It's 4 AM on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. I feel the need to reiterate the date and time right now as the global pandemic we are now facing is starting to cause me to lose track of what day it is...all the days are starting to mold into one long day.
I heard in a podcast awhile back that 4 AM is the quietest time of the day. For the late-night party people and night owls, 4 AM is about the time that they hit the hay. For the early morning risers, 4 AM is just too early to start the day. (I heard the same thing once on an Investigation Discovery show - the cop said that 4 AM is the best time to arrest people for those exact reasons I just mentioned.)
Basically, 4 AM is when the world is sleeping...or at least the world according to your particular time zone. My parents recently just finished a year-long stint in Paris, so I got used to the fact that for an entire year I was able to reach out to my mom and dad at 4 AM and it wouldn't be obnoxious for me to do so as Paris is six hours ahead of EST (my timezone). So a 4 AM reach out from me would be 10 AM for them - a completely appropriate time to text, "Hey! How's your day so far?"
A typical response from them after my 4 AM "Hey!", however -- which was 10 AM local time for them -- would be, "Are you okay? Why are you up so early?" Parents worry...it's their job. The second you have a child, aside from getting officially hired for the job of parenting, you are also given the side job benefit of constant, endless worry. Not always the worst thing in the world, as that worry stems from an indescribable love for your child...but it's worry, nonetheless. Oh, well. Nothing is ever completely perfect.
4 AM is also when pretty much all daytime wildlife is still sleeping, and all nocturnal wildlife is beginning to wind down their "days" and looking for their special place to snuggle and get their rest. They may not be asleep quite yet, but their "days" are beginning to wind down and the quiet starts to settle in.
According to National Geographic, "light pollution" interferes with the natural light (the stars, moon, etc.) that nocturnal animals rely on. Light pollution is defined as man-made light, which hinders the ability for our nocturnal friends to see and navigate in the dark. So when people start to wake up and begin their days, our animals friendos need to go to sleep due to all of our intruding light pollution we damn humans throw out into the world.
So what happens when someone - aka me - wakes up at 4AM and can't get back to sleep?
You get to experience silence.
It's such a beautiful and eerie sound, silence.
Yes, I consider silence to be a sound. If you can say "can you hear that?" and you're referring to the elimination of noise that just occurred after, say, you turn off the television and sit there for a second basking in the silence, then I would think it's safe to say that silence is a sound. Simon and Garfunkel wrote an entire song about the sound of silence - appropriately titled "The Sound of Silence"...I think that alone proves my point. One of my favorite albums of theirs is "Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M."...which is a crazy coincidence seeing as I'm writing now on a Wednesday morning, 4 AM...whoa. Mind blown. Love those guys.
Silence is a break from the sound pollution that invades almost the entirety of our waking moments on any given day. I'm a strong believer in the concept of sound pollution, so I particularly bask in the sound of silence whenever I can get it.
Sound pollution is another gift of having a child. My Chicken is 5 years old, which means that for the past 5+ years I have been experiencing an almost constant stream of sound pollution.
I used to exclusively be a night owl, so on any typical morning you'd find me relishing in the cozy wonders of my bed late into the morning and sometimes into the day past noon. But as I've gotten older - yes, I realize that I am not OLD, but I am getting oldER, so all you pish-poshers out there that are older than me, hush yourselves - I've come to really enjoy the quiet mornings.
Ideally, my quiet mornings would begin later than 4 AM, but I've learned to embrace the insomnia. If I wake up and there's no chance of falling back asleep for me and it's 4 AM or later, I'll embrace the morning as it is.
If it's any time before 4 AM, however, - don't worry, Mom! - I will force myself back to bed, either by popping some melatonin or playing a game or two of Candy Crush. Matching 3 things of the same shape and color really knock me out.
This morning I wish I had been able to sleep longer...I'll be losing my steam so much earlier today and will require caffeine at some point...but I am also loving the experience of the eerie and beautiful "sounds" that 4 AM has gifted me. (I even turned off the fridge for a few minutes to get the truest experience of the silence...don't tell the Huzbo.)
So while the rest of the world sleeps - again, at least in my timezone...there's no telling what our friendos in Malaysia are up to at this moment - I sit here soaking in the glorious silence, writing, and savoring a warm cup of Hazelnut coffee.
It's 4 AM and I'm wide awake...anyone else out there?