Insomnia. Like a hopscotch board, each square filled with failures, flaws, doubts, insecurities, hopelessness, that your mind hops back and forth upon. A cruel game you’re forced to play over the endlessly strung-together minutes. Insomnia doesn’t care what the coming day has in store, like the need to create a masterpiece, or at least an annual report. It doesn’t care if you planned a morning business call. Or if you’ve cut out caffeine and so cannot turn to that curative, even if its effect is only temporary. Insomnia doesn’t care about that stabbing back pain you hoped might have gone away by now. It also doesn’t know you live in the northwest where waking up on endless gray mornings is enough of a challenge.
When we have sleepless nights, why do we fret about our shortcomings instead of orchestrate an achievement? Is it the feeling of sheer aloneness that causes your mind to take the dark paths? The angst of anticipating the sluggish coming day? It’s impressive just how genius you can be at tearing yourself apart. If only I were so skilled at everything!
At 4:37 a.m., I’m the worst designer in the world. Ha! Trying to write? Am I diluting myself, I wonder, making it hard for clients to pin me down? A friend recently used that word when I think she meant delude, and another friend did all she could to not correct her. But you CAN dilute yourself, dangerously so, especially at 4:38 a.m.! Does anyone like me? What if no one ever calls again? At 4:39 I’m wondering why I haven’t yet snaked the drain or removed the limp brown tomato plants still in the garden. What a slob! Am I going to die alone? How in the world will I have enough money to retire? Did I forget again to deposit that check? Is that organic chicken I bought going bad in the fridge? What in the hell is the cat doing over there!? From 5:10 to 5:25, I list every one of my shortcomings and create several more just for effect.
At 5:26, I surrender to the waking world and pick up Alain de Botton’s book “The Consolations of Philosophy.” In a few short minutes, I’m soothed by his gentle, playful prose. But then sink into despair reading the chapter on Epicurus, the philosopher known for indulging in pleasure. But not in a hedonistic way. He promoted the importance of friendship, freedom from the confines of others’ rules, and thoughtful analysis and reflection of our lives.
My spirits were starting to lift. The ibuprofin was starting to kick in. Until I read this:
Epicurus recommended that one try never to eat alone: “Before you eat or drink anything, consider carefully who you eat or drink with rather than what you eat or drink: for feeding without a friend is the life of a lion or a wolf.”
If you eat alone, which I do often, it’s not even called eating. It’s reduced to feeding! I’ll have to add savage to my list of shortcomings. I’ve got to find a relationship so I can avoid sheer squalor. Sigh.
And then, the sun came up. And I mean the sun! The leaves of the cottonwood tree shimmied and jangled like coins on belly dancer’s outfit. In a twist on the morning routine, I forgo coffee and opt for a walk instead.
Nothing like a crap night of sleep to make you see things in a new light, so hungry you are for change, for positivity. Places you often walk by reveal themselves in a new way.
Yes, I agree. The sun does embrace. Suddenly, I’m not the lazy shit I think I am! Things are looking up even if I do have to sit at my computer all day!
I’m going to cook that chicken and invite friends over.