"You're never closer to dead than you are at 3 am" wrote Ray Bradbury, but there's at least one morning I can think of which I was alive with a strange perspective.
For months in 1996, I would stay late at BYU's electronic music studio, or my office in the computer science building, leaving between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. Sometimes I was staying late at composition, work, or study, but just as often, I was simply fretting or discovering the Internet. Sometimes I would nap on a soft bench I'd pull into whichever place I was, stirring when the automatic light came on from one of my unconscious movements.
One night I slept fitfully from midnight until about 3 a.m., and walked out to find a storm straight from the lungs of January had left a foot of snow on the ground. There were giant, odd creatures slowly treading the streets, creatures you don't often see in daylight, moving snow, breathing drones from their own unfailing diesel lungs, shifting bright piercing gazes over parking lot and road alike. In my hazy thought, I thought I had a realization, thought that I suddenly knew that the daytime world we know is propped up by things we don't normally see, things that happen in the night, things that happen underground and in the sky, things like long whales on rails and roads, and things like the snow-movers I saw then, and things like seeds and snowflakes, and the people who tame them. But like so many late night insights, the clarity of the realization didn't stick, and as I heard the far away dream of a train, it caught on the sound of the whistle, and rode away with it into the night.