Good morning all. This is Your Morning Briefing, February 17, 2012.
“Bobby, why do you think you do so much of your work at night anymore?” Suzanne posed that question as we were talking about how different people work differently.
I said, “I wasn’t sure, but I thought it was because things become so much more clear to me then. Either late at night, or very early in the morning when it is still dark.”
Suzanne said, “Bobby, what it is about that time that makes you most comfortable?”
“I know it seems counterintuitive to say that things become more clear in the dark of night than they do in the light of day, but for me they often do. The masks we all wear during the day are put away at night. I think that is true, even for you my dear Suze. I find it a time for reflection, not action, and things seem to come into sharper focus then. I think sensations and moods are more intense, which for me, gives rise to more honest emotions.”
She asked me what I meant by the masks, and how that applied to her. I said, “You, my friend, are no different than me or anyone else. I remember the first night we shared champagne and strawberries, and your mask of strength, wisdom and self assurance melted away that night as you were talking about a very personal experience you had with one of your students, and revealed to me that you can be just a vulnerable as any of us. It changed how I looked at you after that.” Then, I asked her what she thought.
She paused for a moment as she considered my question, and then said, “Well, Bobby, you are right, and I’ve always thought that the light of the night that caresses you and embraces you enables your dreams to appear, your imagination to take wing and your thoughts and feelings surface without fear. After all, that’s really the only time you dream. And the night does give you that. It does also make it possible to put away the masks, as you say, and reveal more of yourself than you might feel safe doing in daylight. You are lucky. Everyone I’ve worked with does it differently, there are those who only work in the morning hours, and there are those who only work in the afternoon hours. You, I have observed, work best by rolling things around in your mind during the day and then getting down to work at night. I see you scribbling notes even as you sit at the Elbow Room as ideas come to visit. Its all a matter of what works best for you. In your case, since I arrived here back in December, I have noticed the change in how you work and the darkness doesn’t seem to hold any fear for you.”
I thought about what she had just said, and what it means to me, and then offered this for her own musing. “I think it’s the solitude and freedom from distraction. Just me, the music, (you know I always have music on when I work), and a blank page, sitting there in the night and hoping that what I’m doing will make some sense when I read it in the morning.
“You know I told you the other day that when I listen to music, its like I can see the notes in the air. In the case of writing at night, its like I can see the words, not only on the screen or on the paper, but in the air as well. I may not always put them together perfectly, but I can see them. When I do feel like I’ve gotten close, there is no other feeling like it for me.
“Putting it another way, when the late evening light fades, and I feel the shadows of night wrap themselves around me, I get a feeling of comfort and safety that allows me to explore the darkest recesses of the night and see places that I never even imagined existed or were possible to get to. It puts me in touch with things inside me that are so personal that it can be scary to explore, but I can do it more easily at night than during any other time. There is also an intensity to what I feel during those times that I feel at no other time.”
I sat back, looked across the table at my lovely friend and asked her, “So tell me my little muse Suzanne, who has come into my life in both the daytime and the nighttime, does any of this make any sense to you?”
She sat there in the dim light, with the only illumination in the room from a single candle and the laptop screen. She was smiling again, with smoke from her cigar curling upward towards the darkness, and said, ever so softly, “Bobby, we are all children of the night, and you are one of the lucky ones who knows it.”
I blew out the candle.
Take care, be well and keep in touch.