Sunset in Portland, Oregon. January 2019. (Jennifer Willis)

I am bold at night

I am bold at night.

At least, I am bolder in those quiet, dark hours when the world is filled with possibility and promise, than I am in the full light of day. Does the sunlight burn away my plans and dreams like so much mist, or is there something else at work?

As the day winds down, and after the sun has set, I engage in an accounting of the previous hours. I have my bullet journal to help me track my progress across the days, weeks, months, and years. But I also have a nightly practice I call my “Ten Good Things” list—ten positive things from the day just ending. These can be things I accomplished, as seemingly simple (but often difficult) as getting up early in the morning and getting in my daily exercise, to more challenging items like meeting a word count goal or satisfying a major deadline. Also on the list are things like conversations with friends, a cuddle with one of the companion animals, or my partner getting to do something that he enjoys. It’s a lovely way to end even a difficult day on a constructive note.

And that’s when I turn my attention to the next day and everything I hope to accomplish with the coming dawn. I lay out a few practical items in my bullet journal, but then I turn out the light and lay my head on my pillow and whisper to myself in the dark about how daring I’ll be with the next sunrise. I will write and publish that soul-baring blog post. I will begin work on that personal essay that dredges up painful past experiences, and I will submit it to a high-profile market. I will dig into writing that sci-fi novel that I don’t feel quite ready for, even though it’s been tugging at me for years now. I will embrace this or that new habit that could change my health, change my productivity, change my life for the infinite better. I will rest tonight, and I will do all of this tomorrow.

Because I am bold at night. I am more confident in the dark. I feel stronger in the shadows.

Sunny days make my partner and my friends and neighbors feel happy and energized. The bright light fills them with hope and vigor. But the glare is physically painful to me. I had real trouble with full sun even before the daily migraines started. Bright days make me tired.

I do still get outside. I do need to at least try to manufacture my own vitamin D after all. But my skin burns easily, even under layers of high SPF sunscreen. I feel drained and fatigued. The heat of summer, and even the gentler warmth of spring, can all too quickly have me wilting.

I try to do my best in the daylight hours. I check off the boxes in my bullet journal. I meet my word count goal. I complete an online Spanish lesson. I do the day’s admin work, because being an author isn’t all creativity and brainstorming. I log-in for my part-time job. I get things done—frequently never as much as I’d like to accomplish, but there is no such thing as a wasted day.

Still, I will often find myself shying away from the bigger plans and goals I’d sketched out in broad strokes the night before. I chastise myself for being too tired, too distracted, too afraid. But sometimes I take small steps in the direction of those bolder desires—when my health cooperates, when the dog isn’t begging for my attention and the cats aren’t fighting and puking in the hall, when there’s no other crisis I have to solve and no new appalling or frightening outrage or danger percolating in the news. These small surges of progress always take so much longer than I want or expect or hope, but I try to give myself more credit for it when it does happen, instead of heaping on the frustration and disappointment when it doesn’t.

And then it is night again. And I am bold at night.

One of these days, perhaps my chronic illness and pain will recede or I will otherwise figure out how to carry my nighttime confidence and strength into the daylight. In the meantime, I cherish those darker hours when I can dream with abandon.

Posted in thoughts from the spiral.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Prove you're not a robot! * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.