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A few months ago, I discovered something amazing. I'd seen it thousands of times before, but never really paid attention. It was just there, a background as I hurried from point A to point B, a wordless blanket shrouding my house as I slept, an invisible backdrop to an outdoor concert or a rooftop drink with friends.

What is this wonder, so unquestioned yet so fascinating? It's nothing fancy or exotic, and you don't have to go far to find it. It's no more or less than night itself -- implicit, deep and intricate. Perhaps you're wondering what I'm talking about -- we all know what night is, right? What's the big deal?

Night isn't just the absence of day, though it certainly is that. Night can be a time of freedom as we leave our jobs, commutes and daytime stress behind. Other things fall away with the sun's light too. Colors are less bright, shadows become less sharply defined, and the busy noise of day fades quickly as the moon ascends the arc of heaven. In their place, night brings treasures of its own: softer and more subtle colors, richer and more complex shadows, and the music of its many creatures, varied and evocative.

Next full moon, go outside, stand still, and just be in the night for 10 or 20 minutes with nowhere to go and nothing to do but pay attention. No doubt you'll notice something new. At first, it may be your own breathing, or the beating of your heart, sounds the busy press of daytime overrides. After a few minutes, perhaps you'll be stuck by the way the air moves and breathes, the way the stars and planets track overhead, or the way the moon's glow transmutes ordinary into extraordinary. Make the night itself your sole intention, for a minute or an hour, and who knows what you'll discover?

With a Perspective, I'm Peggy Hansen.