Let There Be Night!

After a month of dial-up purgatory, God has allowed me a few minutes online.

Watching Food.inc, I was not surprised to connect the failing of Americans’ health to an unkosher (literally un-fit) and unnatural food system. The movie just put another nail in the coffin for me. Though I’m still behind Alisa, who has been pushing a seasonal diet for a year or two now. How much would we save on gym memberships, workout videos, and doctor’s visits if everyone had a small garden, a couple chickens, and a cow or two in the neighborhood?

That thought collided with another. Look how much time, money, and energy we use to disinfect our houses and bodies, when sunlight and a clean breeze would do much of de-germing, if we just developed a little more natural tan and had houses that were built to harvest their environment instead of seal it out. Like build it so the sun can touch most of the house, and when it’s too hot in the summer? Go spend time in the shade on the backside.

I don’t necessarily think natural–as we understand it–equals some moral imperative, but it sure seems like we make life a lot more work than it needs to be. Take the idea that kids need to move out when they turn 18: is it such a bad idea for an aging couple to have a pair of young hands around? Maybe a spouse could be married and brought in, and instead of the mountain of debt from a mortgage and the drain of a nursing home . . . you just kept living in the house that was already paid for? What kind of families are we that we can only put up with each other for 18 years plus holidays? Maybe there’s something wrong with a family where we just need a break from each other?

But I digress.

In the saga of helping our son learn to sleep, we were thinking about that seasonal diet, when amidst all the chaos of ideas, it occurred to us. If God meant for our diet to change with the season, wouldn’t it make sense for our activities too? Maybe we should do the seasonal house hop with spreading cheer and hot beverages, sharing our table, but maybe God meant for you to sleep more too? Or generally tone down the activity level. Maybe have a season, just to relax?

So we started to think about light. Here we are lighting our houses in the dark instead of learning to live with the dark. Obviously, use some common sense. God also gave us the ability to make light, but maybe that’s supposed to be less the norm? Maybe God intended us to spend a little more time in the dark?

I began by downloading a free ap for my computer. F.lux, which shifts the spectrum of light from your monitor as the sun sets because the “blue” end of the spectrum (most common with screens, smartphones, and LEDs) suppresses more melatonin than does the red side. Now doesn’t that make sense? Staring at a screen strains your eyes, staring at a fire makes you think about eternity. Or your wife. Maybe there’s a reason the following exchange never happened:

“Let’s eat dinner by cellphone light.”

“Oh, John, you’re so romantic.”

So with a bittersweet start to our experiment, we started turning the lights out when it got dark. Bitter because you have no idea how much you’ve come to rely on light after sundown until you try to do with a lot less (say a candle or two, or an oil lamp). It’s a hassle, and I don’t fool myself by thinking its cheaper than that of Saint Edison. Just kidding, Edison doesn’t sound like he was a saint. But then, good food costs more than bad food. A good car costs more than a bad one. Maybe we should just learn to be content with less instead of pretending we have lots, when it’s all crap.

But it was sweet too. Get this. Ladies, pay attention. The main urgency of the experiment was we wanted our son to sleep. And that much has been a pretty good success. Bed time has moved from 10PM to 8PM. He still doesn’t sleep through the night, but he wakes less, and Alisa and I get some time to ourselves for a little bit. But the first night, you know what we did when we had no lights, and we were both fully awake?

You were thinking sex. Admit it, you dirty procreator!

No, Aiden was still there and awake, so that didn’t happen. But here were two married adults stuck in bed with no light and no sex. So what did that leave us with? Talking. Just talking. And you know what, it wasn’t bad. It was like that divine thing that happens when you go camping and you’re in your bags, maybe even in different tents and you just talk through the walls, waiting for sleep to take you.

Like we were trying to tone down our son’s distractions and stimulation by turning out the lights, it worked on us too. No movie, no board game, nothing, you’ve got no choice but to relax to the sound of your spouse’s voice. Or a friend, who’s sleeping over, or whatever.

Now, that was only one night. Most nights that doesn’t happen because we want those old, dependable things like a movie on the couch. But, I’ll tell you I enjoyed just talking with my wife. And it makes me think of all the possible connections we miss because we keep the lights on and our minds too busy. Even if friends were over, you could have the light of a small fire or candle and share a glass of wine or something. Just something that’s quiet, restful, nightish. Just pattern your life after the cycle, instead of fighting it. The world is going to sleep, maybe now is not the time to go to a rave. At least not often. Maybe, we should stop patronizing businesses that operate late so their employees can spend the time at home?

I’m not about to be dogmatic. We don’t keep our schedule perfectly. And we’ll still visit people who keep the lights on to obscene hours like 9 PM. I just want to plant a seed. That’s a natural little object that will grow all by itself under normal conditions.

Maybe we should let the night happen. Maybe, we need the rest? Maybe life doesn’t have to be so much work.

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2 Responses to Let There Be Night!

  1. Sam says:

    I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this post, Jesse. And what a novel idea. A seed has definitely been planted. :)

    • jsclark says:

      Glad it helped. I’m finding it a relaxing end to the day. It will be interesting to see what this makes of summer?