Friday, January 8, 2010

Why do we wake in the night?

 Why do we wake in the middle of the night?

Is it so we have space to ponder, in the shadows and quiet?  Sometimes I waken already filled up--those nights I make lists or weep, scribble or rant.

Sometimes I stand at the door in the dark and look at the stars.  Or when I'm in the city, I'll gaze out at the lights of the Irving station--24-hour gas and an all-night convenience store illuminate the night.  Sometimes I'm awakened by a siren; sometimes it's the sound of the furnace switching on, fire roaring, then the pipes clattering with steam.  Now and then I'm awakened by a cat jumping or the dog moving about and sighing.

But if I awaken, it's because I'm not really asleep.  I get up then, get my book and pen and make my lists.  Sometimes a poem comes.  Sometimes it's an essay or a plan for an image or video.  More rarely I'll take some photographs or sketch in the lamplight falling over my shoulder.

As the dawn comes I stoke the fire and creep back into bed.  I'll wake later, sleepy and baffled, mind befuddled, in no wise as clear as I'd been in the night.

I tend to wake more often when my days and weeks are filled up with tasks and others' concerns.  When I'm teaching for example.  When there's less time (if any) to think my own thoughts or plot my own projects.  I wake when I'm anxious, excited or frightened.  I wake to keep watch, but also to lose my sense of time.

Waking in the middle of the night?  It's a way of stealing hours from the light and greedy day.

Beaver Harbour at Dusk from Nolan's Head, NS
Quoddy Bay at Night--brief clearing during a storm
Clock, Halifax

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