You, traveler, know very well what jet lag is like. For a period of several years, you were essentially jet-lagged two weeks every month. “Jet lag is my favorite drug,” you said, repeating the great line by Jacques Cousteau.
But you knew then, just as all travelers come to know, that real jet lag is a bitch. Contrary to the suggestions of well-meaning people who took a trip once and thus claim to know all about the world, jet lag is unpredictable. When it arrives, there’s no magic bullet to stop it from claiming your days and nights for as long as it wants.
Sometimes you fly ten hours, changing six or more time zones, and you feel great the next day. Sometimes—well, often—you fly six hours, changing three time zones between West and East coast, and your body clock is off for nearly a week.
Sometimes you just keep flying, changing hubs and countries every three days, so it never really gets better.
But you try not to complain, grateful traveler that you are, and sometimes a really awesome thing happens: the jet lag works in your favor.
Instead of finding yourself worn down and intoxicated with sleeplessness, you find yourself kicking the world’s ass.
You go to bed by 9pm and are fast asleep by 9:15. Bam. True, you might wake up once or twice, perhaps around 11pm. Is it morning yet? you wonder. Uh, no—you’ve slept less than two hours.
But that’s okay, because you get back to sleep, and you sleep soundly. At 4:30am you’re awake. By 5am you’re out of bed, and there’s no going back.
On these glorious mornings, you’re not bleary-eyed at all. You’ll want coffee, sure, but you don’t need the coffee like a Tour de France racer needs his steroids. Much to your surprise, you’re actually somewhat lucid and eager to start the day.
Even night owls know that there’s something magical about working early in the morning. You may not be able to do it all the time, but when the stars align—well, actually you notice they’re still out as you start the day—you enter a foreign land despite having made it back home.
You might run three miles around the park, well before the sunrise. You might even add on fifty pushups. Why not?
Back at your desk, you might catch up on those things you’ve been putting off. You might immediately start writing. You might enjoy a large breakfast… before getting straight back to work.
Yes, jet lag will defeat you time and time again. It will probably win the war, but you’ve won this battle, traveler. This time, you’re golden.
You know these days won’t last, so you love them while they’re here.
The sun is up and you’ve been enjoying the day for hours.
Image: Cap’n Surly