It’s two in the morning, and my mind is on fire. All cylinders are pumping and ideas slosh through my head, begging me to pull them out of the aether and onto the structured confines of a notebook. This isn’t a new experience – my best work in high school happened between 11 pm and 2 am (much to the chagrin of my parents). In college I’d write an entire paper in one sitting, hit the bed at 7 am after watching the sunrise with a mug of tea, and then wake up at noon, read over the draft and just turn it in without a single edit to earn high marks. Even just taking out the trash late at night became a weekly ritual. I would drag the garbage can down our hill of a driveway to the curb as a teenager, look up at the moon, and breathe in that crisp night air. There was something special about those five minutes of solitude. I relished those nights, because that’s when I felt most in tune.
There’s something almost surreal about the nighttime – many cultures insist that the night is when the physical world meets with the spiritual, when the lines between reality and dreams begin to blur. Creativity, at least for me, flows like a river. I did my best writing at night; all of my “sketches” end up turning into final works of art. I feel alive and ready – I set goals for my life, categorize my books, learn my material for school. And even though many of the early risers out there insist that the Holy Ghost goes to bed after 11 pm, I have my spiritual experiences and enlightening moments during the solitude of night. But why? Why am I so different than, say, my wife, who enjoys going to bed at 8 pm and waking up at 4 am (for the same reasons I enjoy my world after midnight – quiet and solitude)? Am I alone in this nocturnal communion, or are there more people like me? There had to be – a lot of my best friends turned out to be night owls as well. We aren’t alone, right?
I began to type in “Why am I more creative at night?” into Google and, I will admit, my heart skipped a beat when auto complete revealed that this wasn’t an uncommon question. The Internet, people warn, normalize deviant groups and help odd people who would normally never meet each other in real life (like furries) form digital communities across the globe. It turns out my question on creativity and darkness wasn’t so unique after all. This comforted me.
However, early risers look upon night owls with suspicion the same way my friend Q looks upon people like me who have a constant desire to be needed rather than to be needy with suspicion – it’s outside their realm of experience. The world runs on an 8 to 5 work schedule, and night owls feel isolated as they begin their best work of the day just when everything else is shutting down. Perhaps that’s why we’re so productive – cut off from the world, no distractions (except the ever-present Internet). But the world, especially the American business/corporate culture frowns upon us lowly night owls who code their programs and draft their advertisements and calculate their earnings. If only we’d learn to rise early like the captains of industry, we’d be even more productive (and thus richer) like them. Well, bullocks, I say!
A Mormon blogger mentioned sagaciously that people go through two types of puberty – the physical puberty we’re used to in adolescence, and then a second spiritual/emotional adolescence, more prevalent as life demands less and less that we marry early and have tons of kids. My emotional adolescence has been a long struggle to eliminate some very persistent areas of self-loathing. I hated the fact that I was male, but also very domestic. I hated the fact that I was Mormon, but soon became innately liberal (to be precise, classical libertarian with a heavy dose of Marxist philosophy). I hated the fact that I was a jack-of-all-trades when everyone would insist that the specialists were the ones who made all the money, got all the prestige, and had happier marriages. I hated the fact that I had to some how reconcile my Korean heritage and my American birthright – they seem very opposite at some times in my life. And, of course, I hated the fact that I was a night owl in a world run by early risers. For the past five years, I have heavily explored these facets of my personality, tried to forcibly change them, and now am finally coming to grips with them (mostly because I’ve finally learned to trust my ever-supporting wife, who promises me that no matter what, she’ll always be there for me. That security means more than the world to me).
Creative night owls, unite! Apparently, mammalians may have been nocturnal at one point, so us night owls simply stayed in tune with nature, right? And let’s not forget the fact that night owls have a tendency to be more creative, and famous people from Winston Churchill to Voltaire stayed up late to do their important work. Let us rally around the fact that there are many benefits to being a night owl, and that, yes, even our President of the United States may be a night owl as well. And if a night owl can become the President of the United States, well, the sky is the limit! We need no longer fear our early riser oppressors! With the advent of the Internet, I’ll admit – owning my own business doing whatever I decide to do, dictating my own hours, pounding furiously away at my laptop while it’s 3 am and I have a mug of tea next to me and the whole world is blissfully asleep, no longer awake to bother me – this appeals to a very, very deep, core part of me that I refused to acknowledge its existence until only a few years ago (and even then, I hated it). Early risers may dictate the rules, but it is when the moon comes out that the night owls emerge from hiding and elude those rules in favor of our own.
Also, if some of these night owls are lycanthropes, they will turn into were-owls, which, admittedly, don’t sound very intimidating at all.