Why We Stay Up Late
Updated: Jun 17, 2018
The night is another layer - a parallel universe of chance, play, iniquity, release. When we stay up late, we turn sideways and walk up the walls to unlock another dimension that waits scattered in the skies.
The world has a million ways to tell us what is expected from us, but the night invites us to explore the unexpected. Night is where we do a different kind of learning - a vital kind. Not the kind that helps us get on, but the kind that helps us stay still - a ritualistic offering at the font of lost time and fading youth. Night is our escape, where we have ourselves to us. It gives us back time we forgot to ask for, time we we didn't know we needed until - suddenly - we desperately did. It offers space to breath, space to move.
The night is miraculous because it is not the day. The moon makes everything known deliciously unfamiliar - it softens our hesitancy, our insecurities. The air becomes charged with a sizzling blend of purpose and aimlessness. Eyes search for something that can only be found when the world is enveloped in a canopy of darkness. We have this city on dual lease. Between the hours of 10pm and 5am London, with the highest rents in the world, clears the way gracefully for the young. It becomes ours. For those looking to embrace the sweet serendipity of night in a state of pure play. It is our dark kingdom, enveloping a beautiful realm of waste.
We stay up late because we don't want every day to be the same. Because we want to be taken somewhere different - to a world where the laws are crumbling away slightly like a sandcastle caught in the tide. We stay up late in the hope that something will have shifted when we wake up. We need to sit on squashy sofas in chilly dawn sitting rooms, clutching flat beers and laughing. We need naughty, wriggly sleepovers, blurry Ubers with the stillness rushing past us in the wind...we need the sharpness, to drop our shoulders and shout out the words to the songs that we cried to at 13. In a world of obsessed with goals, we need to tether ourselves to the ship of wakefulness without a clear destination and let the dawn slip closer and closer.
The night is when much of life happens. It is when the unexpected, the strange, the distressing, the divine occurs in a great tangle of limbs and chaos. It is when flesh overpowers reason and Monday seems realms away.
We stay up late because we shouldn't. And because we need to. We stay up late because night isn't day. And sometimes we need a bit of darkness to experience the brightest corners of our world.
Written by Jess Bird
Illustrated by Jess Hudson