A few years ago, my husband and his dad took our two boys on a canoe trip around the middle-of-nowhere. I hear they had a great time, fishing, camping, all that kinda stuff. I know I had my own great time while they were away, with the curtains drawn for days while I bingewatched cheesy monster romance movies. But that’s a blog for another day.
My husband did as we often do after returning from cool adventures. He uploaded a bunch of pics, slapped them together on a website and ordered a couple of memory books. (p.s. I have NEVER finished a scrapbook, but I’ve made lots of these online books, so a big THANK YOU to the web gods for allowing this convenience to evolve.)
And what was the title to my husband’s book? You might guess something like Fishing Buddies Forever or Canoe, Wonderful, Canoe or Guys Doing Stereotypical Guy Stuff. Something like that, right?
Actually, the title included this:
“What would the world be like if… oh geez…”
Huh, says you? Let me explain…
Our youngest son, whose feet are now bigger than mine, was still elementary school aged at the time of this trip. He shared a canoe with my husband. As I’ve heard it, while my husband did most of the rowing, the little guy apparently did LOTS of talking. He talked away while they glided through lakes and talked some more while they portaged through seas of mosquitoes.
And LOTS of his chattering apparently began with the phrase, “What would the world be like if…”.
Now, some of you may not know that our younger son has hearing loss.
He started life in a very quiet world, devoid of all sound and, as far as we know, he had no opportunity to learn a signed language, either. When he joined our family at 3 years of age, he knew three gestures. That was it. It may not surprise you, then, that when we introduced him both sign language and spoken language (with new hearing aids), he was like a sponge with the gravity of a small galaxy, ravenously gobbling up everything he could: names, definitions, and descriptors, he devoured any words that anyone could give him.
Given this history, then, you can imagine that we liked, and still like, to encourage all expression, any communication coming from this kid. And so, my husband, along with his dad and our other son, while paddling around the great wide wilderness, went along with these kid musings for many days. Many, many, many days.
No doubt a few moose and a great many fish were listening in, as well, whether they liked it or not.
This funny story of our son’s appetite for infinite questioning has carried on since then, and I still find his sentence-starter quite catchy. “What would the world be like, if…” Oh, how many hours I could spend in front of a window with a cup of coffee, mulling over those words?
Last night, a big ‘what would the world be like’ rolled through my head, and not for the first time. I was on the couch, combing the net and kind-of watching the Oscars while the rest of the family, including the cats, were fast asleep. It was then that I came across this article, a lovely little piece telling me there was scientific evidence that a night owl (the human kind) was a real thing.
I nearly woke up the entire family, and the neighbors, with my rejoicing.
I texted the article to my husband late last night. He read it in the wee hours of the morning before heading to work, when it was my turn to sleep. And he answered me with a congrats of sorts.
And when I awoke in the later morning, after he was long gone, at work in the city, I still felt… what’s the word… justified? vindicated? understood?
And the words came tumbling out of my mind:
What would the world be like, if… schools didn’t start until 11am? medical offices saw patients at 9pm? all restaurants served breakfast food until 3pm? NPR news hour started at 10am? the DC metro ran all night long? hotels allowed 3pm checkouts? post offices and donation centers were open ‘til midnight? theaters ran 1am movie showings?
Could I go on and on? Yes. Yes I could.
But, here’s the question that falls next: What would I be like, if the world was like all that?
If my kid’s school bus didn’t come until 11:12am, if his piano lesson was at 9pm, if I could go see the dentist at midnight and then meander through Whole Foods at 2am?
Would I fit right in, because the whole planet finally succumbed to my circadian schedule, or would I just shift again, in my own quiet rebellion against society and all its structures, and begin going to sleep at 9pm and waking up at 5am? Is my nightowlish tendency because nature dictated it be so, or because I have this little tiny urge to challenge the world, to defy the norms we’ve constructed in our civilization? Or is it simply because I love existing in the quiet while the rest of the world sleeps around me?
Well, unless all the above happens, I guess I’ll never know.
So, I’ll stick to my frequent late-nighters and occasional insane all-nighters. I’ll stick to my many cups of lovely coffee and continue to daydream of a world brimming with lazy mornings. And I’ll revel in the idea, real or not, that my nightowlish tendencies are an unavoidable fact of nature.
Going to fill my coffee cup now. And maybe get dressed. It’s after noon, after all.