Four in the morning
that’s when the magic happens… 1


There’s a thin line between chaos and meaning, and Rives is walking it perfectly. Poetry is about letting your imagination flow, letting a “splinter swerve” as Emily Dickinson called it. Storytelling, on the other hand, is about finding the common thread that connects a series of seemingly unrelated events. Poet and storyteller Rives manages to combine these two abilities in a uniquely disarming way.

While there are many pieces of Rives’s storytelling that leave his audience in awe, his TED talk on The Museum of Four in the Morning might be his best. Not because it is a beautifully recited love story, but because it leaves us wondering about the world’s multitude of connections between people, events and objects. Connections we might miss, because we are not paying attention.

In 2007, Rives stumbled upon something that apparently made one of the splinters in his brain swerve pretty bad: 4 in the morning. “Four in the morning has become some sort of meme or shorthand.”, he said in his TED talk. “It means something like: You are awake at the worst possible hour.” Suddenly, this time started popping up everywhere. Rives was sensing that there was some kind of conspiracy going on. After all, this is “a time for inconveniences, mishaps, yearnings.” But the coincidences surrounding this peculiar time of day remained a mystery. (And I have to say, that it really is a mysterious kind of time because while writing this blog post it started happening to me too…)

Fast forward 7 years.

In 2014, Rives held another TED Talk. He was still obsessed with 4 in the morning, maybe even more so than in 2007. But this time, he had figured it out. Rives explained how it all started. It started with a poem: “Four in the Morning” by Wislawa Szymborska. “As soon as I read this poem, I fell for it, hard. So hard, I suspected we must have met somewhere before.” After his first TED Talk on this subject, TEDsters from all over the world started sending him all kinds of pieces related to 4 in the morning. That’s how Rives became the curator of The Museum of Four in the Morning. And this led to something else entirely…

Let this TED Talk remind you that the world is full of wonder, and that it might be worth looking for it.

Photo credits: Cover image by Unsplash

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About Verena Ehrnberger

Verena works as a data privacy legal expert and studies philosophy at the University of Vienna. Always juggling multiple projects, she is seriously addicted to coffee.


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One thought on “Four in the morning
that’s when the magic happens…

  • Josephine

    Four in the morning, the time of the wake up call for those who decided to sleep in the terminal of Edinburgh Airport, Scotland.