Right about now is when the whole NaBloPoMo commitment is wearing on me. Azita is not feeling well, I have a ton of work to get done before I take some time off (that is, if I don’t want to end up working through my entire vacation as I always do), I failed big time on the Christmas shopping this year, the snowpocalypse of 2009 has put a damper on all of my pre-Christmas preparations and on the getting work done before vacation thing…the list really doesn’t end. So, with all that said, my mind is feeling pretty dead right now. I can’t think of a damn thing to write, so here I am writing about the fact that I have writer’s block.
This cannot happen. So I started thinking about what’s going on in the world today. What could I possibly write about? Oh wait! All of the above misery has made time stand still in a way, and I completely forgot. Tonight is Shabe Yalda, the longest night of the year. In many ways, it is the Iranian holiday that speaks the most to me, although I shamefully never really celebrate it.
It is a night where people stay awake all night and celebrate, eating the last of the fresh fruit from the summer months. Clearly this is a holiday that caters to insomniacs such as myself. We are frequently awake all night, after all. There’s something to the night. Something that really speaks to me, and leads me to romanticize it.
I love the night. I love darkness. I always have. Even when I was afraid of “the bad man” — my mom’s version of the bogeyman — I still looked forward to the hours when the sun slept. I looked forward to this time, because I knew that I would be awake, unable to sleep. And I loved it. Sure insomnia can be infuriating at times, but usually there is something nice about being conscious when the rest of the world is sleeping. Everything is so quiet, and the darkness is so conducive to reflection. It is my favorite time to read. It was my favorite time to study when I was in school. It is my favorite time to work.
I think this is something I share with my father. As a surgeon who not only worked for the government but also had private practice, my father frequently did his rounds in the evenings. Just as frequently, he was on call at one of our area hospitals. Sometimes when he was called in to the hospital in the middle of the night, he would stop by my room on his way out to find me awake, reading or just thinking. And he would always invite me to come along. I never declined.
We would drive together to the hospital in the dead of night. The roads were always empty and tinged with that orangish glow imparted on them from the street lamps. It was such an adventure, and it was our time alone — to talk about politics, religion, philosophy, science, literature. All the things in which we shared an interest. It was a time when I felt the most like my father, and I have always relished the ways we were alike.
Then we would arrive at the hospital and we would walk the empty halls, the click-clack of our shoes echoing quietly. I’m not sure what it was about those nights, but they made me feel special and important. Here was the rest of the world sleeping, and I was awake, observing everything that people missed. It was like I was in on one of the world’s big secrets.
And tonight is a night for celebrating those secrets and the rebirth that occurs at dawn when the sun’s glow spreads, taking over the night sky, awakening the world from its slumber. What’s not to love?
So have a very happy Shabe Yalda my friends. And if you are still awake when everything and everyone around you starts to quiet down and go to sleep, I hope you take a minute to stop and take it all in.Â To appreciate it. To realize just how special and magical those moments are.