Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Post 15 Part 3: ...And Celebrate The Night

   Greetings all! I've mentioned this already, but I am really excited for this post. I love the night. I love being awake in the small hours, I love talking to people long after everyone sane has gone to bed, I love the places my mind wanders at 3 in the morning. I am not Charles Halloway. But anyway, this is the final piece in my three vignettes, and I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I've enjoyed experiencing it.

The Night  

   How do you explain the night to someone who's never been there? It's not just a time, it's a place of mind; the fortuitous meeting between location and temperament, when the streetlights are burning cool sulfurous yellows and oranges and it becomes pressingly, urgently clear that you are more alive than you have ever been.It's easier to find in the summer than the winter, because the night is defined by its cold winds, and to the hesitant January pilgrim a walk into midnight can seem more like a burden than an invitation. But rest assured, the invitation is the crux of the matter. The night is a coaxing, lilting thing of shadows and tremulous edges, and you cannot simply walk out after sunset and find it.

   People fear it, because night time is the time for witches and lies, and fearful shapes at the edge of vision and thought. This is reasonable, but happily the night is at its best when it walks on the thin lines between waking and dreams, and pure reason is best taken with a grain of salt when you plan to journey there. The night is dark, but more importantly it is cloaked. People don't understand that it's the cloaking that comes first and the darkness that follows, and this is partially why so many are afraid to wander into it, and so never experience the shards of life that can only be found in dark midnight crevices.

   It is not safe. It will never be safe, not fully; that is not the point of nighttime; it is a time for secrets and lies. This is also a frequent turnoff for some. What the hesitant fail to realize is that it is these hidden states which form the the crust that separates day and the night are neither malicious nor negative. Errors in perception are a universal result of the human condition; what the nighttime does is slip a mask onto the world large enough to hide everything. When everything is hidden, the false assumption that everything is known disappears, and is replaced by acceptance of the fact that true knowledge is a dearly gained treasure, and it is a treasure that escapes most in this life. When you can admit ignorance, you are free to pursue truths that the known world refuses to let you believe in. 

   An unfortunate side effect of all this is that the night also tends to be populated with many less than friendly people. Avoid them, but do not let them steal what they do not own. The night is NOT evil, and it can never be evil. It can only have the evils of men imposed on it. When you fear to walk away from the sun, you give shadows to the people that abuse them. Like every other part of life, the only thing you can do is live as you wish others would live, and do what you can to help others go with you. 

  For those that do go out, the night blesses them with its presence. Just like you can feel the daylight strike your skin at noon on a day in July, so the night will coat you if you let it. It's the curiously dense air that settles on you like a sheet, until you can't quite tell you end and cloth begins. It is cool even when it's hot enough to scald you, and carries a faint hint of rain in the moist winds that gently trickle down alleyways when you aren't looking. It is, above all else, pregnant. Pregnant with the rain and sun of tomorrow, with possibilities, with hopes, and of course with lies. It is the lies that draw you out into it again and again after you've first allowed it to sneak into your heart and your skin. 

  They are mostly the lies you tell yourself. They congregate at night because that's when you have to stop moving, and they let you live and sleep and make peace with tomorrow. Some are malevolent, some benevolent, some simply exist: "I will be better tomorrow, I'll do it right this time. I can quit next week. Maybe dinosaurs are still here, and they've just gotten really good at hiding. I'll tell them it was me. She won't remember. She'll remember everything." They give structure and hope, and sometimes blame. Mostly, they let you get to know yourself. Most are not meant to deceive so much as to tell a story, and every story lets you know what kind of world you wish to live in. The night is made so you can live a hundred lives and put them all in a box that can get up in the morning and look around at all the things in all the other boxes. 

   The truth of the night is made from the same cloth as lies, but that does not make it false. This is the time when the worst thing that could happen has already happened, and the best thing that can happen is still hours away, but creeping inexorably closer. The world ends with the sun and is reborn with the sun, and in the hours between everything falls together and happens, disappears, and then comes again in a hundred thousand shattered mirror lives and stories. Is it any wonder that you can't tell the night to someone who hasn't been there?

Rebellion (Lies), by Arcade Fire. If I lived my life by any anthem, this song would be a strong contender. This was the first song I ever heard by Arcade Fire, and it's still one of my favorites. Also, like many of their songs it describes the night better than I can, and it's beautiful.
You are the Blood, by Sufjan Stevens. This is actually a cover of a song by band called Castanets, and while the original is good I prefer this version. For me, it encapsulates the feeling of murky frantic movement that takes over when you've spent the whole night awake and still can't sleep. 
Wolfmoon, by Modest Midas

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