Saturday, December 10, 2022

WHAT TO DO AT 3A.M. WHEN YOU WANT TO RUN FAR FAR AWAY AND NEVER COME BACK

By Camille Ibarra

You jump out of bed and make for the closet
urgently, pulling out all the green tank tops
and brown trekking shorts and tossing
them into the emergency suitcase that has
been collecting dust under your bed for
years now. You snatch half a pad of postits
and some photographs from your mood
board, grab some paint tubes from the rack,
and pile some Mars bars on top of your
sketchbook for the road.
This is it.
All those years of just gliding about and
not knowing what to do with yourself
have culminated to this moment of clarity
because finally, for real this time, you
know exactly what to do with your life.
As it turned out it’s got nothing to do with
becoming an archeologist in South Africa or
quitting school to play one of the Cybermen
in Doctor Who, no. This time you will set
for the countryside, build a wooden hut and
paint for a living. This is the forked road
right here, your turning point, so bring it
on, world! NYAHAHAHA!
The only problem is it’s 3am.
And your friend from the other end of
the line is yawning and you can tell he’s
really too sleepy and tired of your ‘brilliant’
witching-hour ideas and now he’s yelling
for you to “please just get some sleep!” But
they don’t get it. They don’t understand that
you can’t just sleep off a 3am epiphany. Why
would you shut down the voices screaming
in your head, the tingling in your bones,
the hurricane in your guts when you know
moments like this are hard to come by when
the sun is up in the sky? Why would you
tame down your soul instead of letting it
break free within those few hours between
midnight and daybreak when you are most
probably yourself? Sleep it off? Nope. Not
an option.
It’s probably the darkness outside your
room that stretches to forever that feeds
you the illusion of infinite possibilities. The
traps that shred your plans to pieces and the
walls that barricade between you and your
dreams during the day just magically slip
your mind in the hours when everything
dissolves in the pitch blackness that blankets
half of the world. Suddenly, everything
seems within your reach, seems easy…or at
least not as hard.
There is something about 3am, when
the world is reduced to an eerie black ball
of coffee brewery and keyboard tappings,
that make or break you. Some nights, when
you are lucky, you feel infinite. Limitless.
Even necessary. Your hands itch and your
mind burns so you pick up the guitar,
the paintbrush, the pen and pluck out
that genuine passion stirring your soul
at those most ungodly hours and out of it
create something beautiful — beautiful
because it’s important, important because
it’s you at your vulnerable best, at your
strongest potentials, at your kaleidoscope of
possibilities. So what will you make of that?
And then some nights you lay limp on the
floor, cocooned with a blanket to fight the
cold but you do not sleep. Your mind is too
awake for that. And this is when the sadness
kicks in not because your day had been
especially bad or because you said the wrong
things to someone or did something you
shouldn’t have. There is this kind of sadness
when you are not sad about anything in
particular but you are just really sad. What
do you do, then?
You wait for the sun.
Because in the sun, it will all seem
ridiculous — your packed suitcase under
the bed, your half-done autobiography on
the study desk, your brief contemplation
of getting a noose for a necklace. In the
morning you’ll be okay again when the rays
of the sun shine some sensibility on you and
the dawn’s fears will strike you as silly along
with the musings, too.
Is that a good thing?
To be okay, sure. But why would you
want to be okay — to be just okay — when
you can bask in the 50% chance of being
brilliant or 50% of being miserable at 3am?
Is such brief madness really so bad? If a
friend calls at dawn and tells you he’s off
to the edge of Norway to camp under the
auroras, will you laugh at him? Will you
drive to his apartment and slap some sense
into him and tell him to get a grip for Pete’s
sake?
Don’t.
If you’re a friend, you will tell him to
remember how he feels right now and run…
run as fast as he can.

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