Once upon a time, people attuned their lives to the turning of the globe and its orbit around the sun. They arose and went to bed at sunrise and sunset, basking in a saturation of luminous teals, pinks and purples. At night, the inkiest black caressed them to sleep, while the pearlescent moon bathed them in the softest glow and countless diamonds made them dream of gods and goddesses, celestial planes and the vast glory of the universe.
Now we wake up to a harsh “BEEP, BEEP” and hit snooze on the same digital alarm clock that saw us off to sleep with its neon ugliness. Outside, store signs, street lamps and the headlights of passing cars disrupt the beauty and peace of the nocturnal world. It is hard to find, in most developed places, the lulling familiarity of frog croaks and crickets. The childhood memory of floating fireflies is gone, along with the smell and taste of wild honeysuckle.
There is something feminine and mysterious about night, and she was deified as Diana by the ancient Romans. But she has been completely sabotaged by electricity and modern life. The stars, the million gorgeous stars, the Milky Way, the constellations that still exist above us, are rendered invisible.
Of course, this affects many nocturnal species: baby nesting turtles, birds and bats, butterflies in migration. But it also deeply affects our psyche in ways not yet fully researched or articulated. Staying up late and under fluorescent lights has been linked to depression, mood problems, insomnia and even breast cancer.
But when you are a human being, part of a species that has existed for 10 millennia, you can know what is good or bad for you, what is true and what is a lie, what is divine and what is evil, within you. You sense it. You feel it. You could swear by it. And when you look up and only see planes passing over head, you can mourn a great loss.