Posted by Jarsto in Category 42
January 1st, 2009 | 4 Comments »

It’s 00:55, the new year is less than an hour old, and the fireworks, having receded to just occasional bangs at least a quarter of an hour back, now seem to have gone almost completely. It’ll be sporadic for another few hours, I know that much from experience, but a point of rest is approaching, which means it’s high time to get this blog entry written – though as it’s being written on my PDA it will have to wait a while a before it’s published.

What else can I say about the present moment? I’m at my father’s house for newyears. And I’m the only one still up. I’m sitting by myself in a darkened livingroom. I could, no doubt, put more light on, but for now I prefer to have just a few candles, and the light of my PDA screen as I write this post. The year is now exactly one hour old, and the fireworks are sputtering occasionally outside.

There is a reason I’m sitting here in the darkness, waiting for quiet. It’s not just to write this blog post – it’s important, but not thta important (sorry) – but it’s to do with the fact that I’m still up. In fact I’m highly unlikely to go to sleep any time soon, or indeed before the evening of January first. The only way that’s going to happen is if I really find I can’t last the night.

You see, for the past few years I haven’t slept between the morning of December 31st and the evening of January 1st. Instead I stay up. It started partly when I noticed that New Year’s eve was no longer special. Staying up past midnight is routine for me, in fact sleeping beforer midnight tends to be more special. But just doing something special on this night, something as special as being up until midnight felt when I was younger isn’t the only thing.

There’s something strange, almost magical, about being up in the deepest part of the night, when all human life around you sleeps. It’s as though certain thoughts only come at the times when the brain isn’t usually awake to receive them. A facet of that thought is expressed by Susan Ivanova, in the Babylon 5 epside “The Hour Of The Wolf”, which also mentions quite specifically the moment I too have found to be the “hotspot” for nightly insight: the hour between 03:00 and 04:00 in the morning.

To put it another way, with a slight hint of melodrama if you’ll permit me: always be careful around mirrors between 03:00 and 04:00, at that time of night chances are you actually will see yourself if you looki n them, not just the faint copy they usually show you. And like all insights gained by waking through the night that may be useful, but if it comes at you while you’re unwary, it may not always be welcome.

It’s ten minutes past one now, and the fireworks have fizzled out even further, so I’ll call it quits for this blog entry. The new year has started, and so, for me, has a new wake to ponder what’s happened in the last, and what may happen in the new. It’s an odd habit, and probably not “the thing” for everyone, but I find it works for me.

Update 04:00 – I’ve made it through the most important part of the wake, and am now about to do something I haven’t done for a few years: go to bed. Not to sleep, at least that’s not the intention, but just to lie down. My back’s been acting up the last few days, and it’s starting to again now. Lying on the sofa isn’t going to cut it so I’m going to risk the bed.

Update 09:00 – Just as I’m posting this I’ve been up again for an hour or so. I don’t think I really slept, though I may have dozed of a little bit once or twice. Most of the time was spent in contemplation as intended though, and my back is certainly feeling better than it was about 5 hours ago.

4 Responses to “My Annual Wake”

  1. Starstuff Says:

    Welcome to the New Year and I wish you that it will be a happy and successful one, by your definition.

    I think you ‘ritual’ is very unique, but at the same time almost meditative. I liked the way you described it, especially the parallels you drew to Ivanova.

    All the best to you and have a nice – and not too tiring – 1st of January.

  2. Jarsto Says:

    I did manage to have quite a peaceful first of January, thank you. And I wish you a happy and successful new year as well.

    As for the ritual, it does have a certain meditative quality to it. In fact I tend to meditate for at least part of the time that I’m awake. I’m glad you like the parallel with Ivanova’s hour of the wolf, though I think part of that is because the Great Maker is well aware of the reality of the hour of the wolf.

    I don’t know whether he’s been up at that time often himself – I know I have often enough even aside from my annual wake – but the effect is real. While I can’t recall the precise research off the top of my head, I seem to remember some scientists managed to show this is the real “witching hour” as well.

    Unless I’m much mistaken something changes about your brain chemistry around that time of night, which is why it’s the major time for people seeing things that (usually) aren’t there. But when it’s turned inward that same effect provides a sort of clarity that’s hard to find elsewhere (at least it does for me).

  3. Starstuff Says:

    As for the question about the Great Maker: I’d say he’s seen his share of those hours, considering the writing and production marathon he had for five years with B5. He wrote in one of the script books (or in multiple editions) that he often time only got three to four hours sleep per night because he had so much to do and because he could write very well at night.

    As for your last sentence (in the comment), G’Kar comes to mind: “Everything out there has only one purpose, to distract us from ourselves, what is truly important. There are no distractions in here. We can learn much from silence.” – G’Kar, Messages from Earth

  4. I tend to spend time meditating every day, so I can relate.

    There is some evidence that physiological changes occcur at that time, call it biorythms or whatever you like – it is the time when the body slowly prepares to wake up.

    Yes, G’Kar’s comment about silence is more true than most people can imagine.

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