6am

“Untitled” by Jeff Cagle is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The scope of human history doesn’t allow for sleep.

It’s an appropriate time to write about sleep. 6 am in San Francisco, the morning light jabbing in like lightning bolts through the blinds of the bedroom bay windows. The sound of early risers in nearby houses, opening shutters, closing doors, going to work, again, again. It’s the time of the day I experience most vividly. Out of a silent slumber, I notice every sound, every hot water pipe turning on, every parent taking their child to school and every bird with his coo. I experience the same thought each time – “You should sleep more”.  It’s a weird paradox to be so in awe with life that it leaves you detached from important sleep. To be in awe. That’s what the days are for.

Many mornings I’ve wondered if anyone else shares this version of insomnia. It doesn’t stem from anxiety or sadness, it stems from a totalitarian joy that fights closed eyelids. There’s so much to learn, so much to see. A hundred years of life couldn’t satiate every curiosity, every instance of possibility, every sunrise. I treasure those few hours of quiet on Earth, when nature plays out her symphony to introduce the world of man. He comes in with his drumbeat, his sirens and his car horn. And to scale rooftops of the Financial District and watch this whole scene unfold, that’s what the mornings are for. Remembering the size of it all and feeling excited, daunted and humbled.

Replace a night of sleep with talking

And to put on shoes and get out the house before the rest of the world wakes up. Running through imaginary slaloms and racing to distant objects. For there’s no one to see you skipping. No one to hear you singing! Your arms out wide from your chest as the cold morning air infiltrates your lungs. And then you slip and fall into mud, only to get back up again, the blood on your knees bringing back certain sentiments of childhood. You’re not a child anymore, although somehow you feel exactly the same. And in that moment you remember Time. With bloody knees you stand by old trees and pay your respects to every past moment that lead you to right here.

And what about the books? All the words ever written, every poem, every tale, every piece of humanity’s culture that lead up to the version of civilization that we are today. How to read every account? Every love letter between two individuals, every speech at every battle, to be able to understand every hieroglyphic. All the time in the world couldn’t bring you to comprehend every mathematical formula, every philosophical idea, every artistic creation, every ounce of research. To seek to feel every thought ever thought by man. To know what the Incas experienced when they lost their lands, what the Vikings felt when they crowned their Kings. Every book in the world could barely bring you close. The scope of human history doesn’t allow for sleep.

And to write. In writing experiences down we transfer them into a perpetual existence that lies outside of ourselves. I sleep much better after writing, seeing the thoughts laid out, viewing them and touching them before the nocturnal makes them a distant memory. To think that some of the best days of our lives haven’t happened yet, no matter how bad the current day has been, how bad the situation, how poor you currently are or how anguished. Another day is another opportunity for kindness. It’s another day for passion. It’s another day to carve out your reality. Whether you decide to comply to career and relationship norms that don’t exist anywhere apart from in our farcical mental constructs, or not. To meet a new person and to replace a night of sleep with talking, sharing childhood stories, music, hopes and dreams. To take risks! To make memories! To turn to your loved one and say “forget work today, let’s run away and go to the beach, eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and make sandcastles” and not care that you’re 25 or 45 or 90.

That’s what the days are for.
That’s what the days are for.