Shadow Self-Portrait at Sonic Bloom 2012 copyright Jonathan Zap
PreDawn Window Zone
copyright 2012, Jonathan Zap
Status Update August 16, 2012 3:30 am
Awakened by the Spirits of the High Desert and the Red Book
So often I find the muse waking me up between 3 and 4 in the morning, as it did this morning at about 3:10 AM, and that can work out very well if I’ve gotten to sleep early enough, say 9PM. The predawn hours are the magical time for me creatively, a window zone where the veil between the realms seems thinner, and most people in the community are in the dreamtime and I have just come from the dreamtime. This morning I’m at 7200 feet in the high desert of Taos, New Mexico at the guest house of someone whose book I’m editing. The muse has been waking me up at 3 something all this week even if I’ve gone to sleep late. When that happens, my brain is just not rested enough and I usually have to go back to sleep. It feels like the muse is reminding me that I should have been ready, and when this happened a couple of days ago the awakening was from an intensely magical dream image which let me know that a magical zone had been prepared for me. I was awake, but not well rested enough to rise to the occasion. I had stayed up till 11 something and drunk a couple of glasses of wine the previous evening which had further lowered the quality of sleep. I had an embarrassed feeling, as if someone had thrown a surprise party for me, but I wasn’t dressed or in any sort of state to be able to entertain the waiting guests.
Intense winds are howling across the high desert, like insistent spirits. I feel the insistence of forces that want me up and paying attention to them. The sound of the wind blowing across the desert feels like it is reminding me not to compromise this zone, to be ready for it, to be present because it has come a long way to find me.
After a brief meditation I decided to read a little in Jung’s Liber Novus (Red Book), which I’ve been doing recently before some morning writing sessions. The exact passage I was up to was so uncannily relevant to what was happening to me that morning that it appeared to be a classic synchronicity. And what could be more appropriate than a synchronicity involving the writings of Carl Jung, the man who coined the term “synchronicity,”and developed the concept.
In the passage, Jung is having a dialogue with his soul in the early morning.
[I:] I feel that I must speak to you. Why do you not let me sleep, as I am tired? I feel that the disturbance comes from you. What induces you to keep me awake?
[Soul:] Now is no time to sleep, but you should be awake and prepare important matters in nocturnal work. The great work begins.
[I:] What great work?
[Soul:] The work that should now be undertaken. It is a great and difficult work. There is no time to sleep, if you find no time during the day to remain in the work
[I:] But I had no idea that something of this kind was taking place.
[Soul:] But you could have told by the fact that I have been disturbing your sleep for a long time: You have been too unconscious for a long time. Now you must go to a higher level of consciousness.
Just after I wrote the above I was scrolling through my journal and found a related status update from several months ago:
I seem to need the pre-dawn hours to work on my fantasy epic, Parallel Journeys. Pre-dawn I can gaze out at a boundaryless horizon shimmering with interdimensional portals. Most people in the community are deep in REM sleep, traveling in the dreamtime. The air is filled with possibilities.
But when the sun comes up the wave function collapses and the whole machinery of the Babylon matrix boots up. There is the sound of traffic and garbage trucks backing up. Anxious commuter thoughts crowd the psychic ether and the iridescent perfume of fertile darkness becomes the smell of gasoline and coffee with non-dairy creamer.
Many other creative people I know prefer the night owl window into the unknown and sometimes we overlap and they message me on Facebook. They are at the end of their day and I at the beginning of mine.
The price of admission to the magical pre-dawn time can be steep. For me it means going to sleep really early and on an empty stomach. I also need cardio exercise and a very healthy diet. If I’m not in shape I can get up at that hour only to find that my energy is wilting. I also try to do all the caffeine for the day, strong yerba mate, at this time. Late night social must be sacrificed for the predawn zone. And it’s hard to get all these factors lined up just right. Much of the time I can’t fall asleep right away so I might spend an hour or two listening to audio books (preferably fantasy fiction) on headphones, but I stay in bed with my eyes closed. I may only get 5 and half or six hours sleep this way, but often that’s enough if I can complete a full REM cycle before I get up. I wake up without an alarm, and when it works this is usually at 3am, the witching hour. I wake up remembering dreams and stay close to the dreamtime.
In time management there is a concept called “peak time.” It’s the time when you are at your best for a given activity. One great advantage to this schedule is that I create peak time before any responsibilities of the day begin. If I have to go to work that day, I’ve already done my writing and have this feeling of high value accomplishment that can keep my morale up no matter what the rest of the day throws at me. However you structure your day I recommend that you find ways to save your peak time for your highest value activities.