It has been a long time since my last stint at the wheel in the wee hours of the morning. Several days ago the phone rang at 1 a.m. Never a good sign. Within minutes I was in the car heading for Boston. The sun and I got there at about the same time. Fortunately, the late night emergency that required the trip has resolved itself, all is well, and I was able to head back home the following day.
I rise early every morning and usually hit the hay earlier than most. Having never been a night person, the habits of night people have always rather puzzled me. But it goes both ways. My night owl friends cannot imagine getting out of bed before sunrise or giving the slightest thought to calling it a day before midnight. Come dusk my internal engine starts winding down and all prospects of energetic thought dissipate. The opposite is true within minutes of getting out of bed in the morning. Throw a quick cup of coffee into the mix and that once moribund internal engine screams with energy.
Oddly enough, the one thing I can do at night is drive. My preferred driving ambience is total silence, since pure thought is impossible when impeded by extraneous noise. Night thoughts are quite different from day thoughts. When driving somewhere in daylight whatever neural impulses are at work seem to dwell on matters practical. Perhaps there is a connection between darkness, the steady, soothingly monotonous drone of the car’s engine, and one’s capacity for deeper, more philosophical thinking. Movement, of the steady, rhythmic sort seems to engage the mind in ways otherwise not approachable either during the day or when one is not in motion. I have some of my best ideas (at least to me) when I am either walking or driving. I have always preferred silence to its opposite.