For many people, waking at 4:00 am is unconscionable.
For me, waking at that unholy hour — with or without an alarm — is the norm. On days when the alarm wakes me, I don’t delay getting out of bed because I know much needed sleep is just around the corner.
Leonard Cohen, Bob Marley, and Paul Simon all sang about the terribleness of that hour. Rives, the first 2.0 poet, said about 4:00 am:
It means something like you are awake at the worst possible hour. A time for inconveniences, mishaps, yearnings. A time for plotting to whack the chief of police, like in [the] classic scene from “The Godfather.” Coppola’s script describes these guys as, ‘exhausted in shirt sleeves. It is four in the morning.’
If so much that is bad happens at 4:00 am, why do I wake up then?
Time to think.
I do my best thinking early in the morning. Of course, this also means I’m usually ready for a nap by 10:00 am — a sure sign I’m not getting enough sleep, well, ever. If I were to retire to bed earlier and rise later, perhaps my creative time would happen at a normal hour of the day. I might also live longer. Possibly.
For me, that obscene hour is when I get some of my best creative work done. It is a time, however brief it might be some days, when I can unhook my brain from technology.
In our ever-connected lives, it is harder than at any other time in human history to simply be in the moment. So much clamors for our attention during our every waking hour. Notifications on our phones and computers pull our attention away from whatever we’re doing. Most of us try to multitask in much of what we do.
How often are you engaged in a conversation with someone who half pays attention to what you’re saying as they respond to a text message?
Daily, it seems, more science emerges in support of disconnecting from electronic devices. 50 years ago, advanced technology as we know it today didn’t exist so the science wasn’t there. Go back 100 years and crystal sets for hearing that new thing called radio were still relevant. That was the only thing to distract you from whatever was right in front of you.