Mar 29, 2009
It is a night like any other. I climb the steep staircase to the narrow hallway and enter our bedroom. I set my cup of Sleepytime tea with honey on the end table next to the bed. I begin to read The Body in the Library, a Miss Marple mystery by Agatha Christie. Soon my head is hanging like the seed-heavy head of a sunflower at the end of summer. Customary drool is forming at the corner of my mouth and I wake myself up with a snort and a stiff neck. Egad. I put my glasses and book on the table, slurp some tea, click off the light and settle down for the night.
Three hours later I awake. It is 1:30 A.M. Husband has not come to bed yet. I am alone in my nightie, and where is Pa in his cap? I venture down the stairs and see said husband in the kitchen making hot chocolate. He says, why are you awake? I say, I don’t know! I make more tea, and go back upstairs.
More Agatha Christie until 3:00 a.m. I am roaring wide awake, right there with Miss Marple, looking for clues. I look at the clock and think, augh, I have to get up in three hours. I shall try again to settle down for the night! And I click off the light and lay there. And then the hamster of my brain begins to claw the wheel in the cage. Around and around and around, I scamper in the cob-webbed, sleep-starved halls of my brain. At some point during all this, my husband crawls into bed.
I tell myself, I’ll try that meditation technique where I tell each part of my body to go to sleep and by the time I get to my head I’ll be out. I do that for a while, but my thoughts stray to all the suffering people of the world. Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I imagine the globe. And then continent by continent I pray for the people. I pray for the polar ice cap, and all the bears. I pray for everyone in Siberia, Mongolia, North Korea, Lapland. What else is up there? Iceland. Greenland. The Yukon and Northwest Territories. Siberia. Mongolia. I hope nobody has frost bite. I hope they all have heat and full cupboards.
Then I go south. All the people in China and Korea and Japan and Southeast Asia. New Zealand and Australia, Papua New Guinea, Tasmania, the Philippines. India, Pakistan, and all the stans, and the Middle East. I usually pause there and pray for all those that would do harm to the rest of the world and pray that their hearts can be illuminated. I pray that the backward, vengeful mentalities there can flower into compassionate vessels of God’s love, like the Sufi poets, Rumi and Hafiz.
I mentally visit Europe and pray for all those countries and all their problems. Then I venture into Africa and pray for all those caught in wars and crimes, victims and perpetrators alike, and for the heart of Africa to flower and care for its own. I pray for America and for all its woes.
I go to South America and pray for them too, all the countries in the mountains and jungles and beauty and color, for all the poor people and all the drug lords and for everyone to have enough abundance, and to love each other. I go to Antarctica and pray for the penguins.
Pretty soon I am in a semiconscious dream state. I know I’m dreaming because I’m climbing through a tunnel and I don’t usually do that during my ordinary, daily activities. I continue the dream until I hear clicking sounds, over and over. I emerge from the lull of sleep and realize the dog is pacing back and forth on the wooden floor, wanting to go out. It is 5:30 am. I must have been asleep for 15 or 20 minutes. I get up and take her out. It’s still dark. She goes potty. I go back to bed.
Soon, I settle down, after thrashing under the blankets trying to find a comfortable position. It’s then the cat’s turn, and he begins to stomp on the pillow next to my head, loudly purring, which he does every morning at about 6:00 A.M. I reach up and pet him and he leaves. I drift off again. Then the phone rings. I look at the clock. It is 7:30 A.M. A friend of ours is calling. He’s on a business trip and can’t reach his wife because they lost power because of an ice storm. He wants to ask us some questions. I talk to him for 5 minutes. We say good-bye. Then I say to myself, to hell with it, and I get up.
I feel disemboweled, but I make coffee and greet the day. Many people have had a worse night than me. My house is warm. We have food in the cupboards. I have hot coffee and buttered toast. My husband is snoring upstairs. My kids are sleeping. The dog and the cat are sleeping. There are no bombs, no wars outside my window. I take a few moments to express genuine gratitude for my circumstances and my life.
It’s a new day. It’s just me awake now, typing on the computer.
Oh, what’s this? There’s a puddle of drool next to the keyboard, which I see as I pry my cheek off the desk. Where have I been? Oh fickle sleep, you visit me unawares.
Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember.She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.
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