Night Owls Are Respectable, Too!
I find my mind has slowed a lot, and I'm piecing together my Back To Church Resolutions, the first of which is to try harder not to be a Night Person. I make this resolution every August, and keep it for about twelve days.
Night people are just not as respected in our culture as are Bright Early Morning People, who are automatically assumed to be more together and industrious. My main evidence for this is that the typical working day is 9-5, not 6-2 a.m., which would work a lot better for me. And don't tell me that the working day is tied to the daylight hours and agriculture or something, because who needs daylight to get their work done anymore? Hardly ANY of us, and I am happy to let them be Morning People.
One of the most sorrowful things about living in the suburbs is that just when I'm ready to start really rolling, everything's closed and all the good people of suburban America are tucked into their beds watching late night TV. That's why I need to go to New York every now and then: to be with my peeps who aren't asleep by the crack of 10:45. In New York, you can get Chinese at 1:00 a.m. and the place is packed.
Most of my family are night owls. Left to our own devices -- that is, without the expectation that we'll be functional in the morning -- we will stay up 'til about 2:00 a.m. and sleep until 9 or 10. As a kid I never thought a thing of this. I'd go to the theatre in the summer, do a show, change out of costume and make-up, go out with my pals, and get home at 3 a.m. My mom would be up at the kitchen table, smoking Merritt menthols and writing in her yellow pad. "Hi, sweetie," she'd say, "How was the show?" Then we'd sit up for another hour while I debriefed her. The world was quiet, I was home safe, and I'd go to bed feeling very wholesome and happy. We'd get up at 11:00 a.m. and never feel like slackers, because we weren't. We were just night owls.
I have learned since those sweet years that the world generally regards Night Owls as a little bit nefarious, as in "What in the world could you be doing at 2 a.m.?"
You mean aside from dealing crack? Well, let's see: Reading, cleaning house, doing laundry, planning a sermon or a paper, writing a newsletter column, e-mailing friends or congregants, blogging, petting the cat, cooking for the next day. Gardening (I kid you not. I like to garden at night), playing the banjo.
There's a lot of neat things you can do at night that aren't illegal or immoral. I get a tremendous amount of work done between 11 p.m. and 2:00 a.m., but somehow I feel slightly sleazy for admitting that. If you're not fresh as a daisy by 8:-00 a.m. and admit that you went to sleep at 2:30, most folks will assume you didn't so much go to sleep as passed out in bed with all your clothes on.
I have NEVER fallen asleep with my clothes on. I sleep only in white pajamas in all white bedding, and no matter how late it is, I always wash my face and moisturize. I am a very wholesome night owl.
I do a very good Fake Awake Voice, of course, as do all professionally successful Night Owls who live in a Morning Person world. I can go from fast asleep to Totally Alert in 0.5 seconds, even poised with pen and paper to take down important information. I may even remember it later.
So on the cusp of another church year, I vow to work harder to alter my circadian rhythms and get to bed by 11:30 and up by 7:30. I always feel more virtuous when I do, like I'm Normal, and although I feel well nigh dead by 4 pm and need a nap (which I never do when I follow my own inner clock), I am bound and determined to be a Morning Person.
My goal is to be up by 7:30 a.m. with all the other Virtuous Normal People, and either work out or spend the next two hours studying and praying. I will do one three days a week and one four days a week.
I will succeed! I can do it! And this year, by the grace of God, I will finally wring the neck of my inner Night Owl!
But not tonight.