I recently returned from a quasi-vacation in Vancouver with my clan. It was an awesome two weeks spent eating great food with family, swimming with my oldest son in the grandparents’ pool and playing a ton of golf (have you read my article ‘Church of Golf’?) all over the lower mainland with my friends.
On the way there my wife and boys flew, but I decided to drive with my pooch. I’ve always enjoyed cruising through the majestic Rockies. The 10-hour drive gives me a lot of time to think, reflect and appreciate the beauty of the most spectacular part of my country. I’ve probably done that drive (Calgary to Vancouver) 20 times over the years, but it never gets old.
At the end of the vacation, for the drive back to Calgary, I decided to switch things up a bit. Summer road construction can be brutal… so two nights ago, the eve before I was suppose to drive home, I caught a second wind at about 8pm and decided to drive back to Calgary in the middle of the night. My wife wasn’t too pleased when I told her of my plan, but I knew I’d be fine, and kind of wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. So I quickly packed the truck, cut a fresh cigar, grabbed the dog, hit Starbucks for a coffee and was off…
There’s something very cool about driving on quiet roads at night. Peaceful for sure, but there’s more to it than that, something I can’t put my finger on. Anyway, when the city lights were far behind and I started my ascent into the mountains, lo and behold I hit road construction, completely debunking my theory that if I drove at night I could save time by avoiding this inconvenience. This was serious construction too. My usual route of the Coquihalla highway was closed. I was rerouted to Highway 1, which would take me through the famous Hell’s Gate.
I had never taken this route before because it adds about two hours to the already long drive. Naturally, I was rather peeved that my idea to avoid road construction had failed miserably. But there was nothing I could do about it, so I quickly decided to get back to enjoying the drive…
With the windows rolled all the way down, I started to notice things outside that I had never before paid attention to. Most remarkable were the smells. Driving through the mountains, and being one of the only vehicles on the road, I could smell the pines, fir trees and ferns. The air even felt different. It seemed heavier – in a good way. It was mildly intoxicating. High beams on because there were no street lights for much of the mountainous drive, I could see all the crevices in the forest that lined the road. I appreciated the windiness of the highway too. It was fun to dip, climb and maneuver through the mountains, all the while enjoying the fragrant air.
Stopping at a gas station later in the drive, I met a cheerful, heavyset middle-aged woman behind the counter who seemed genuinely interested in learning where I was headed. After about 5 minutes of gabbing, I knew her name, that she has three kids, one of which lives in Vancouver while the others never left their small town, and that she has a grandson who lives with her because, apparently, her daughter’s ex is a “deadbeat”. It’s interesting to strike up a friendly conversation with a total stranger. That has never happened to me in a gas station during the day, probably because there is no time for chit chat when other customers need to be helped. I left the gas station energized and lighthearted after chatting, and continued on the glorious drive in the darkness…
You can make great discoveries at night and find things that wouldn’t have come to you during the day. This can be incredibly valuable, particularly when working on a project that requires more creativity and thought than usual.
Whether you’re in a rut and need to switch up your work routine, or – like me – you want to harvest your creativity from time to time, working at night can be the solution. I encourage entrepreneurs to take the day time off for just one weekday a month. Go relax while the sun is out. And when the night sets in, start working on one of your projects that requires creativity.
Your mind isn’t racing during the night, which brings a certain calmness. Ironically, the darkness outside brings me great creative clarity.