It's about 4am as I write this and I have been up since about 3:30 am, which seems to be about usual for me. I don't think I actually sleep through the night more than about two or three times per week, though recently I went two weeks without sleeping through the night. The funnny thing about insomnia is that when I was a kid I thought that it meant you were basically awakem alert and able to do stuff, but bummed that the rest of the world rests while you are alone and awake. The truth of it is that I am never like that. I am tired and would love nothing more than to go back to sleep easily and sleep until morning and awake fresh and ready; sort of like a TV ad.
However, that is rarely the case and I often find myself too tired to be of any use in the early morning hours. Sometimes I can read and sometimes I'll put a CD on such as Garrison Keillor doing his Lake Wobegone schtick or some such thing and that can actually help make me feel a bit easier, but not really get to sleep.
I fall asleep easy enough, but what happens is I wake around 3am and cannot fall back to sleep. I know why too. Generally this is the time that the weight of my life, all the things that feel heavy and weigh on my shoulders seem to become an even greater burden. There are the unpaid bills, the writing assignments not yet completed that really need my attention, the work situation that is unresolved, the person wo for whatever reason does not seem to be treating me fairly, the worry and agst over whether I will ever finish the writing projects I have started for myself, am I being a good dad (good enough dad?), financial woes, and how to do better and improve my life. There are also the worries of my cancer and trying to figure out how to have health insurance (I don't currently) and how to make one very important relationship work when despite the two of us being such a fine fit and committed to the other, life keeps throwing up myriad obsticals.
Some nights I'll do a mental inventory of all that is right with life. There is a wonderful woman in it, I have kids who have challenges, but are very easy to love and for whom I am grateful to have in my life, my health (knock on wood) seems to be okay and I am able to exercise and run, which gives me great pleasure. Right now, in my small cacoon of a bedroom, tucked beneath my covers listening to the soft sounds of my daughter sleep in her room a floor below mine and my son in his across the hall, I am warm and for the moment there is nothing bad actually happening to me, other than that I can't sleep.
Sometimes I'll take the advice of Mary Karr who in her book Lit (a fabulous memoir) shows how prayer can at least bring solace to a troubled mind. For me it is not about feeling like there has to be a God sitting in heaven waiting for my supplications and wishes for some devine intervention, but rather it is about speaking to the unifying energy that seems to connect al things and all people. Carl Jung would call it the collective unconscious and point to the universal archetypes, which I think as a theory holds great meaning even though he died about 50 years ago (was 1961 really that long ago?). He posits that there are these images and stories that all humans share and that they show the connections between the psyches and awareness of all humans, no matter if we live in a rain forest or Park Avenue. So at any rate, I will pray to this sense of being and ask for peace if not a few of my worries to be resolved. And I will think of people I know that are suffering from cancer or having some challenge in their lives or whom I simply love and ask that they be allowed to live lives of peace and that some burden be lifted; and my spirit is lightened a little bit even though, unlike Karr, my dreams and prayers don't seem to be answered.
Sometimes my mind as I lay sleeping will actually do some good thinking and I can settle on a course for the day or a means to resolve some issue. It is not always a right or best course, but it is often the best option at hand. Sometimes, though, I will have some good clarity and see a problem for what it really is and what is driving it and be able to really reach a sense of resolution and find a way to deal with the issue. Sometimes it is a writing challenge and other times it's a personal challenge, but the mind at 3am or 4am can be rather surprising.
Well...I am tired now and perhaps sleep will come, or a good idea, or a good prayer...or not. Probably not.
Causes James Buchanan Supports
Expanding health care in the US, ending war as a viable tool of foreign policy, and issues related to social justice in general.