(This is an old post off my old blog. Still good, still worthwhile. Enjoy!)
It is 3:59 on Sunday June 14th.
The words that everyone would use to describe my situation would be the expression "I can't sleep". And it's true, I can't sleep. But I never viewed sleep as an act of will. Look at that phrase. "I can't sleep." Like sleep is a just another verb. "I can't jump." "I can't swim". Sleeping's not an act of mental might. You can crawl into bed, but you can't force yourself into sleep. That's ridiculous. Sleep comes to you. Sleep is anything but in our control. Of course, I'm not talking about sleeping drugs or chemicals or warm milk. Whatever. I'm talking about using your mind alone.
What if sleep were a normal force of nature, and when you couldn't sleep you were out of line with nature? Let's rephrase that. What if sleep showed itself only to people who had the right mindset, and all the people who couldn't sleep are either using sleep for some unhealthy application or have the wrong mindset? Here I am, twisting and reshaping myself in bed trying to get the most optimal body shape that would best result in bringing sleep to me. The most optimal sleep set up that would most enhance the likelyhood of getting to sleep. Flipped the pillow over to get to the cold side? Check. Window open? Check. Sleeping on my right side with my right hand behind the head pillow? Check. I was trying to bring sleep to me and I was trying too hard. And here's my thoughts as I'm twisting, turning and forcing my way into sleep.
Damnit, it's 3! Alright quick, how does sleep work? How do I usually fall asleep? You have to sit still. You have to sit still,be comfortable and don't move. Then sleep starts to come and it starts to bridge your thoughts together, and when your thoughts start to bridge together you eventually just slip out and you don't even know it. Okay then, let's start bridging thoughts together. Okay, uh...let's take this random thought you've had about cake and put it together with Snakes on a Plane. Uh, Cakes on a Plane. And the soundtrack can be the sounds of the engine and of the cake mixer. Matter of fact, I'm going to even listen to them right now while I imagine a scene from Cakes on a Plane. Are we there yet? Can I stop now and just drift along already?*
Clearly the wrong way to do this. Sleep is a natural process.
And it's this anxiety that I have that drives it all, this fear. Go to sleep. Bad things will happen to you if you don't. My anxiety isn't that rational, it isn't so outspoken and clear like that but I tried my best. My internal, fearful push to sleep doesn't use words. It speaks in the language of flight or fight responses. Sleep is a juicy, delicious fruit to be savored. Relaxing can be a wonderful, centering, and enlightening experience that puts the madness of life into perspective. We'll gain no real recuperation by only thinking of relaxation as a breaks between shifts whose sole function is to keep efficiency high during the work shifts. I have wanted to go to sleep so I can perform well tomorrow. Sometimes, our survival depends on us being at the top of our game and we need sleep to do that, but you can't fake the funk. It's infuriating, I know, but you aren't relaxing unless you're true to yourself and you inherent desire to relax. Not for your boss or your work, just for your own satisfaction.
And hey, it's not like I know anything about sleeping. It's now 4:30 in the morning and I'm still no sleep guru with years of good sleep or have a line of books that have been featured on Oprah. You'd have to be crazy to take me seriously.
*That's usually what happens when I fall asleep. This type of mindset falls on me and it's a place where music, words, images and movement are all linked and you can describe a gesture with a sound, or denote the meaning of a word with a landscape. And when that happens I usually drift off. I can't give a good example now because I'm, y'know, awake.