Nyctophilia is the love of nighttime or darkness and I am a big nyctophiliac. It’s nighttime now and I sit in a dim living room, lit only by the pinkish glow of two Himalayan salt lamps and, of course, my laptop screen. Although I prefer rooms that are bright with natural light during the day, I dislike turning on lights after sunset. I believe that if the sun is down, then it’s time for us to mostly be in darkness, with our focus turned towards bedtime. When I was married, my husband learned that if he entered a room I was in and had to turn on a light so he could see, he should turn that light back off when he left. At first he felt like that was rudely leaving me in the dark, but he eventually learned that it was considerately returning the room to the level of light I preferred.
I love bedtime. Falling asleep is one of my favorite things
It might be logical to associate nyctophilia with the
quality of being a night owl, but I’m not one of those. I like going to bed by
10:30 p.m. and waking up at dawn. I’m a morning person who doesn’t need
caffeine to feel alert and focused well before 9:00 a.m. It just happens that I’m
a morning person who prefers when the world turns down the harsh glare of
daytime and softens the appearance of things with shadow.
My nyctophilia is why I like cloudy days. Rain, snow,
humidity and temperature aren’t as important to me as having dim skies. My eyes
are extremely sensitive to sunlight, so I have to wear protective glasses, and
often a hat, when I go out on bright days. As others soak up the sun, I
try to walk on the shaded side of the street or at least with the sun’s rays at
my back. Yes, I admit to having this in common with classic vampires: when the sun
is out, we want to just stay inside.
Chicago has had some very sunny weather this month. Too many
days in a row of brightness wears on me, so I’m relieved to see that we’re due to
get some rain next week.
My love of darkness is why I’ve started participating in
Earth Hour on the last Saturday of March each year. To do that, you turn out
all your lights between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. local time, wherever you are. This
year it falls on Saturday 28 March. Earth Hour is an annual international event that draws attention to the need to conserve resources or save the planet or
some such rhetoric. Whatever. I don’t care about any of that. I just like
sitting in the dark.
This is the second year that I’m having an Earth Hour party.
That means I invite a bunch of people over for one of my get-togethers
and everything goes along as usual except that we turn out the electric lights
between 8:30 and 9:30 and use candles instead. I’m a big hostess and love having
potlucks, game nights, birthday parties and holiday celebrations all year long.
But this is becoming one of my favorite social events: a party where I have an
ideal excuse to shut off the glare, switch to soft candlelight and let everyone enjoy the semi-darkness I cherish. Last year we played cards during
Earth Hour, being able to see well enough to do that. Spontaneous acapella
singing broke out, inspired by “Hello, darkness, my old friend.” The dimness
created intimacy, the loss of which I found painful when it was time to turn
the electric lights back on at 9:30.
I wish Earth Hour happened more than once a year or lasted
more than one hour. Wait, who’s to say I can’t stretch this hour? It’s my
party. Maybe I’ll have an Earth Hour party with only candles all night. Oh, yeah. Nyctophiliacs, we have found
our annual global event!