But whatever extends the day loses us the dark.
We now live in a fast-moving, fully lit world where night still happens, but is optional to experience. Our 24/7 culture has phased out the night. In fact we treat the night like failed daylight. Yet slowness and silence – the different rhythm of the night – are a necessary correction to the day.
I think we should stop being night-resisters, and learn to celebrate the changes of the seasons, and realign ourselves to autumn and winter, not just turn up the heating, leave the lights on and moan a lot.
Night and dark are good for us. As the nights lengthen, it’s time to reopen the dreaming space. Have you ever spent an evening without electric light?
It doesn’t matter whether you are in the city or the country, as long as you can control your own little pod. Make it a weekend, get in plenty of candles, and lay the fire if you have one. Prepare dinner ahead, and plan a walk so that you will be heading for home in that lovely liminal time where light and dark are hinged against each other.
City or country, that sundown hour is strange and exhilarating, as ordinary spatial relations are altered: trees rear up in their own shadows, buildings bulk out, pavements stretch forward, the red wrapper of brake lights turns a road into a lava flow.
Inside, the lights are going on. Outside, it’s getting dark. You, as a dark shape in a darkening world, want to hold that intimacy, just for one night. Go home. Leave the lights off.
We have all experienced negative darkness – those long stretches of the night when we can’t sleep, and worry about everything, and so we know that “dark time” can seem interminably long, compared with daytime. Yet this slowing of time can be the most relaxing and beautiful experience. Spending the evening in candlelight, and maybe by the fire – with no TV – talking, telling stories, letting the lit-up world go by without us, expands the hours, and alters the thoughts and conversations we have.
I have noticed that when all the lights are on, people tend to talk about what they are doing – their outer lives. Sitting round in candlelight or firelight, people start to talk about how they are feeling – their inner lives. They speak subjectively, they argue less, there are longer pauses.
To sit alone without any electric light is curiously creative. I have my best ideas at dawn or at nightfall, but not if I switch on the lights – then I start thinking about projects, deadlines, demands, and the shadows and shapes of the house become objects, not suggestions, things that need to done, not a background to thought.
– Jeanette Winterson, Why I Adore The Night | The Guardian