I opened my eyes, and it was still nighttime. I didn’t want to glance at the clock, so I turned over to go on sleeping, but I couldn’t. I heard some magpies picking at something on the roof, and I decided I had to get up to see what they were up to. In the dark, I looked out the window and saw an animal move. Frightened, I ran back to bed and looked at the clock. It was four o’clock in the morning—that dreadful hour when I know that I am awake and that I am incapable of going back to sleep: my own private sunset. At that time, the visible and the invisible, the tangible and the intangible, acquire a unique condition where minutes turn to days, small noises turn to menaces, and my thoughts turn to tragedies from which I am not going to be able to escape. I waited and waited until dawn. And I began a new day as if nothing had happened, without being able to sleep. Again.
It seems that four o’clock in the morning is a special time. Searching for an explanation of my habitual nightmare, I arrived at a series of TED conferences by the poet Rives, who unwound a beautiful and amusing theory about that time of night. Rives gathered other authors’ references, songs, and movies about what he considers to be “the worst possible time” and created a portal where anyone can contribute more references from popular culture about the importance of that specific hour. Truly fascinating.
But today, it happened again, and like all those machines that are programmed to be obsolete after a certain time, I opened my eyes at ten to four in the morning, and my body understood that Fear, in all its freedom, was not going to give way. And I began a new day, as if nothing had happened, without having been able to sleep.