I recently had the rare chance to watch an entire night go by. I was on the road for about 10 hours overnight, from sundown to sunup. At the end of the trip I took away one very important life lesson: Batman is a genius. Well, Harvey Dent is. Well, whoever wrote the cheesy “night is darkest” line (probably Christopher Nolan?) is. As a reminder to our viewers at home, a major theme of Nolan’s Batman trilogy is a line spoken by Harvey Dent toward the beginning of the second installment, The Dark Knight. You’ve heard the line– “The night is always darkest before the dawn.”

I never gave the statement any real deference until the night I found myself actually watching dawn in its entirety. Here’s what I learned: (1) Yes, indeed, the night is always darkest before the dawn. (2) Dawn will inevitably come, but even when you know the exact time it still takes for freaking ever. (3) If I’m ever going to do this again I need way more music.

1. Who says a dark night has to be a bad thing? Before leaving, everybody (IE parents) warned me about the trip and dangers of driving at night for so long. They were very right, of course (kids, don’t drive drowsy) but the way they spoke was as if the “night” part of it all was an inherently bad thing. As I got out of city limits, though, and onto winding canyon roads and into wide-open plains and over rivers, all with the unhindered stars shining overhead… I tell you, it was a beautiful thing. Now, I know there are legitimately bad things in life. I know that, obejctively speaking, daylight is safer than darkness. But at nighttime as well as in life, you can choose to focus on the lack of light or you can choose to focus on the beauty. Beauty, I might add, which can only be seen in the dark. So, yeah, the night is darkest before the dawn. But it’s also when the stars shine brightest.

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Sure, that’s what I meant

2. Scientifically speaking, the sun is really really bright. Which means its light can be seen a long ways off. Which means when the first beams of sunshine start creeping over the eastern horizon, it’s going to take a very long time for the sun to actually follow. Before my trip, the few times I’d ever thought about  the whole “night is darkest before the dawn” concept, I’d never even stopped to consider the mechanics. Without even realizing it I just imagined a sort of “lightswitch” scenario, where pitch black suddenly gives way to sunlight. As it turns out, that’s not how dawn works; more importantly, that’s not how life works. I would defy anyone reading this to come up with a time where things were truly terrible, then instantaneously great again. That’s just not reality. Yes, dawn will inevitably come, but it’s going to take a while. Yes, the world will fill with light again, but the process will be gradual. Moreover, if you expect things to miraculously flip on a dime, or your problems to suddenly be solved, I’m afraid you’re going to be constantly disappointed. On the other hand, if you’re willing to wait it out, taking in the light little by little, before you know it that sun’ll come up over the horizon and daylight will flood your life.

3. I’m up for suggestions. Seriously, my music library needs a major update.

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