The Intersection of Curiosity and Time Shifting

China Lights | New Orleans City Park (2016)

We’re spending much of this spring in Europe, and seeing as I work on Eastern time, no matter where I am, this means that I’m working nights for the next several weeks. Quick time zone math: 9am to 5pm ET translates into 3pm to 11pm CET. The whole situation is fascinating to me because I haven’t worked nights in over a decade, and when I did, it certainly wasn’t office work (it was restaurants and retail). Overall, it hasn’t been difficult–it’s just different.

What working nights means for my personal life is that my weekday free time is before work, not after work. I also sleep later than I would on my usual Central Time, waking by alarm at 9am (which isn’t bad at all). At that point, I have a full six full hours for myself before I have to sit down and work. In short, it’s basically a time shift: on workdays I have my “evenings” in the daytime and then after work, I have about two hours (normally my “morning” hours) until I’m ready to get to sleep (usually sleeping by 1am–gotta get my 8 hours!).

Time shifting is the crux of this situation. In the end, the life I live here is not much different than the life I live at “home” (i.e. in the US). I mainly just do things in a different order, but it’s enough of a change to help keep things interesting. It’s one of the hacks Jeremy and I use to keeps life from becoming monotonous. One of the reasons travel is because we’ve found is that most of what we face in day-to-day life is rather boring (after the 1,000th repeated day or so). Frankly, the repetitiveness was wearing on us, but we’ve found that by doing something small like living in another time zone for a short while goes a long way toward keeping life interesting. We like to think of it as a coping mechanism, one of solutions to the breaking up the tedium of daily life.

My initial conclusion when thinking through this topic was that we do all of this because we are novelty seekers, but when discussing this with Jeremy, he astutely observed that it’s not the pursuit of novelty that propels us, it’s our curiosity. Of course–we’re curious! That explains much of why we travel and do what we do! We want to see new and different things. We want to experience new cities and different cultures, but at the same time, we’re home bodies by nature and spend much of our time in the place we’re currently calling home. That’s one of the reasons that working at night works so well: we’re home anyway! Being able to be out and about in the daylight hours actually works better for us, considering the type of active, outdoors lifestyle we live.

What all this means is that working at night is one of the “costs” of curiosity for us, right now. We wanted to spend time in Europe, and this is one of the costs we factored into our planning. Though if one of the only extraneous costs of being here for 10 weeks is having to work at night during the week, then so be it. It’s a small price to pay for the freedom to do what we want to do, and we’re happy to pay it.