Pete Davison: Good Night

Posted on September 22, 2011 by

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I love the night. Some may argue that this is proof that I’m a vampire (though a sparkly one rather than a “catch fire in sunlight” one, given my ability to go outside in the daytime) but I simply explain it away as being a time when you can truly enjoy the world in a way that it’s easy to forget about — peacefully.

Going outside at night-time is a pleasant experience (assuming you remembered your keys) because it somehow feels “forbidden”. It’s not, of course — though naturally anyone who happened to be looking out of their window at the time might be wondering exactly why you’re wandering around aimlessly in the dead of night if you’re not Up To No Good –but to some extent, lingering feelings of childhood enter your mind, reminding you that you’re “supposed” to be in bed, but instead, you’re out in the darkness and cool air of the night.

It’s a good time to think, too. Whether this is because your brain has had enough of daytime thoughts (such as what you’re going to cook for dinner, whether you’ve paid the council tax and wondering whether you left the oven on) and just wants to indulge in flights of fancy is an unknown. But the night-time is the time to think about things, to be creative and to let your imagination run wild.

This doesn’t always work to your advantage, of course. Having something weighing heavily on your mind and then allowing your brain to get into that curiously imaginative late-night state will often get you into a relentless cycle of negative thoughts, at times even preventing you from sleeping. But what you need to remember in this situation is that if your brain is feeling imaginative enough to think about what might happen if you don’t send that Really Important Letter tomorrow, then it can imagine something stronger, too.

When I was younger, I used to try and influence my dreams by lying in bed with my eyes closed, imagining the opening for some sort of narrative in which I was the star. It would inevitably end up being some sort of heroic fantasy (not necessarily of the “swords and orcs” variety) in which I fantasised about a particular person and how I would interact with them if I had the opportunity to rescue them from the depths of an underground tunnel network/a spaceship/a civilisation that lived inside a tree/a world made of strawberry mousse. I’m not sure if imagining these narratives ever successfully influenced my dreams — everyone reading this is likely aware that their unconscious mind is capable of coming up with far more bizarre material than your waking mind can — but it was always fun to try. I’m not sure at what age it became more difficult to do that, but it’s certainly a lot more challenging to maintain concentration on a specific fantasy now when trying to get to sleep. Perhaps this isn’t necessarily a side-effect of age, but more other factors such as mental state, a greater number of additional considerations over and above what you had when you were a child, or simply that your concentration span is shot for whatever reason.

Despite good intentions, I somehow always end up writing these posts in the dead of night — sometimes later than others. The vast majority of any creative writing I’ve done over the years, too, has often been composed during the midnight hours. And for a while last year when everything was going tits-up, I found friendship on the other side of the world in the dead of night. (The latter ended up fucking up my body clock beyond all recognition for a considerable period of time, however, so more practical solutions have had to be found.)

This rambling load of old nonsense may have had a point somewhere along the way, but it’s escaping me somewhat right now. I’ll just say it’s the fact that “the night is awesome” and leave it at that — before bidding you, of course, a very good night.

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Posted in: Pete Davison