In many ways, we are at the height of our cleverness at 4 a.m. So many brilliant ideas occur to us at four in the morning but as a rule they are gone by the time the alarm goes off a few hours later.
Not so today.
While my body and mind are still responding to Chinese time cues, making me think four a.m. is a darn good time to get up and start the day, I happen to be awake and aware of the pre-down cleverness which most of us sleep through.
My first brilliant idea was to write a column called "4 a.m." This should have been a sign for me to go back to bed.
The second brilliant idea was how to destroy jet-lag forever. From now on, I will travel only one time zone per day. If I do that, I will gradually adjust to the time changes until - arriving in Shanghai after seven days of travel - I will not notice the fact that back home people are sleeping while I am awake. In the spring, when I have a week's course to teach, the entire journey will be 21 days. This is a 4 a.m. brain storm.
Of course, at 5:15 it is already fading away. But at 4, while I was lying awake and still undecided about getting up, it seemed to me so obvious that why didn't everyone know this already?!? The Joad family, making its way from Oklahoma to California during the dust bowl, never suffered from the time difference in The Grapes of Wrath. They never had wagon-lag. And it took them fewer than three months and one epic novel to do it.
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