FLY BY NIGHT

Nighttime It's a long day's journey into night. Upon arrival, perceivable distance shrinks. Dangers lurk. Passions rise.

Night transforms expectations, emotions. It builds drama; it adds intrigue. When The Sun goes down the air cools off, winds slow, moisture condenses.

People change clothes. Some retire their working day duds for favorite sweats. Depending on whether there's work the next day, some transform their sartorial presentations in the opposite direction, opting for sleeker shirts or dresses--clothes meant to be seen, ironically, at the time of day when natural light is least available.

What of those who work at night? Nighttime is the province for labors out of rhythm with the natural order. Night work requires a conscious effort to travel against the temporal grain like a salmon going upstream. It demands that energies ramp up as most of the world ramps down. It demands internal engines of motivation. It requires constant reinvention for successful work to happen at all.

At night you cannot forget who you are; there is no autopilot. As an artist, night imposes itself on your spirit, provoking simultaneous dream-states of invention while it lulls you into complacency, a siren song to all who make things: it won't matter too much, so just relax!

A successful night of work invigorates as much as it exhausts. Traveling in the opposite direction from a normal day's trajectory, you feel a sense of clever competence, a sense of doing a hard thing about which the rest of the world can only dream, warm and cozy in their beds. But a night of unsuccessful work reminds you just how much you're missing, how the day will come and you'll be dry and exhausted for it, nothing to show for your labor and nothing left to recharge you. The day feels out-of-joint, and you're stuck with the knowledge of time forever gone.

Do I ignore the obvious? What of risk? What of romance? In the privacy of night there's the opportunity to try out an idea without announcing it to the world. Whether that idea is a new melody line in a sonata or the potential to construct roads to romantic liaisons, the innate privacy of darkness suggests a measure of anonymity, and thus confidence. We become agents for our own ids, artists and super-spies everyone. There's risk, there's darkness, but there's also a constant awareness that soon, soon, night ends. The Sun also rises, and what we create in nighttime spaces has the potential to live and thrive through the day.

"Nighttime," as the great Ray Charles once put it, "is the right time."

-MS

PS -- Yes, yes, here's where the good people of 1AU ask our dear readers to share what you've read with friends and colleagues. And here's the place where you think, "Oh, sure, one more imposition of my precious time." Well, we're asking. It's something we value above rubies, above gold: if you like an idea enough to give it a moment's thought, then consider giving it a measure of freedom. When you share an idea with another person, you release an idea to grow freely in the world. Like what you see? Set it free.

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