I’ve been dealing with insomnia. I’m trying to fend off pesky emotions, and my mind just won’t quiet down when I settle in to sleep.
Most people would assume that the 12 hours of night-time — customarily from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. — are identical to the twelve hours of daytime. They should be, but really there is something different about the night.
Years ago, when I needed a second job, I took a position an hour’s drive from my house. My shift was roughly 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., but could extend later if the work wasn’t finished.
I learned a great deal about the night on that lonely drive across town in the wee hours of the morning. First, there are two kinds of night-time. The initial seven hours of night are filled with bright lights, and the hustle of fun seekers using the shroud of darkness to overcome the inhibitions of the day. It is a time almost exclusively for the young, who drain the night of its vitality like sucking a whiskey Coke™ through a straw.
From two o’clock on, the world is serene, as if the day was taking a deep sigh before beginning anew. The denizens of the predawn morning are an odd mix of early risers heading out, and the late-night owls coming to roost.
When the sun is out, normal people, awake normal hours, think normal thoughts. Night people think differently. The mystery of the night fabricates a willingness to explore the frightening and the impossible. It’s no coincidence that the legendary vampires and weir-wolves roam the night.
Yes, the darkness changes people.
I was wide awake Wednesday morning at 2:15 a.m. Eastern Time when President Donald Trump held a news conference at the Hanoi, Vietnam summit site, after he and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to reach agreement on denuclearization.
Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stood before reporters, and stated that the United States felt it necessary to end the talks, stalled over the issue of sanctions.
“Sometimes you just have to walk,” Trump stated.
All week during the lead up, the media seemed prepared to skewer the President no matter how the summit turned out. If he won agreement, it couldn’t be in U.S. self interest, and likely is just a diversionary salvo to offset media scrutiny of turncoat Michael Cohen’s testimony on Capitol Hill. Fail to get an agreement, and of course, Trump is a bungler.
I was surprised, however, by the overnight media reaction to Trump’s announcement. They listened. They asked good questions. They were professional. Trump countered by answering questions directly, and by being generous with his explanations.
That’s the way I left it when I finally nodded off to sleep.
When I awoke, the media was attacking. Phrases like “epic fail” and “missed opportunity” and “major collapse” overwhelmed newscasts in some daylight-curse transmutation.
And journalism’s warm mood disappeared with the dawn, ephemeral as the night itself.
John O. Marlowe is a reporter, sports writer and award-winning columnist for The Paper.