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For My Fellow Early Risers: The Mystery of 4am

2013 July 15
by Marquita Herald

For a time that I find to be the most placid and uneventful hour of the day, four in the morning sure gets an awful lot of bad press. ~Rives

The Mystery of 4amOne of the great mysteries of my life is that regardless of where I am in the world – Tokyo, London, Toronto, New York, or at home in Maui, Hawaii – I wake each morning (without the aid of an alarm clock) at precisely 4am.

Truthfully, I’ve never really given the reason for this anomaly much thought because I’ve always considered it a blessing of sorts. I love to have my coffee while watching the sunrise over Mt. Haleakala, and it’s my favorite time of day to write.

Now, thanks to this (largely tongue in cheek) TED presentation by performance artist John Rives, I was stunned (okay, maybe mildly amused) to learn that 4am has become some sort of meme or shorthand for being awake at the worst possible hour … a time for inconveniences, mishaps, mysteries and scheming of the worst possible kind.

I present to you, the mystery of 4am …


Rives is a frequent TED contributor. A regular on HBO’s Def Poetry Jame, Rives also starred alongside model Bar Refaeli in the 2008 Bravo special Ironic Iconic America, touring the United States on a “roller coaster ride through the eye-popping panorama of American pop culture.” If you like his sense of humor, you may want to take a look at his other TED Talk presentation.

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3 Responses
  1. July 17, 2013

    Hi Marty,

    I enjoyed this video so much. We can take it one or two ways: Positive or Negative Hmmm.

    For me, 4 a.m. is a time I never was awake he he.

    I think it is a matter of perception. All I know is that if I awake at 4 am I would really get heated! I do not like to be disturbed by anyone or anything (like a dream) and awake at that time.

    Is it a non productive time? Yes for me, but for others maybe it is a time to be productive. A time where your body knows no matter where you are, that you need to pay attention to something…a thought maybe.

    Thanks for the amusing TED video

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  2. July 16, 2013

    I’m a 2 am typically but 4 is ok too! ; ) I use that time to focus and concentrate on my most important aspect of my life…God, ala “hello there God it’s me Bianka!”

  3. July 16, 2013

    You gotta love TED, don’t you? :-) Thanks for the awesome link and for making me think a little bit this morning … read on ;-)

    I found John’s talk very entertaining … and as he put it, creepy ;-) Every one of us has our own sacred time where we are most productive and alive. I tend to be most in-tune with the world early in the morning also, just not quite as early as 4am ;-)

    Watching this talk had me pondering. It’s funny how when we get an idea in our head, we can massage it into whatever we want it to be. We can theorize and rationalize anything into existence (given enough thought and Google searches) :-) We can choose to spin our story and thoughts in a positive tone, or we can do the opposite. Given the choice, I think we all know which one produces the better outcome.

    We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. ~Buddha
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