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To sleep, perchance…

November 11, 2020

What is sleep?

We often cannot avoid it. But now, in COVID19, we often cannot find it. Endless sleep-inducing video programs, chemicals, pillows, mattresses are hawked as if they were miracle cures to a disease that is a plague only diminished by the vast pandemic we are wrestling with each day.

We all sleep. We all wake up, sometimes at the time when we should be asleep. Insomnia is the new smoker’s cough. Talk of insane dreams – startling in intensity, inscrutable in their origin and meaning, afflict almost everyone I know.

In the silent black of illegitimate, undesired insomnia, we scroll our tiny screens through endless images and messages, rewarding undesired behavior with distraction that furthers it. What am I doing to create this purgatory between sleep and sleep, this depressing halftime show between the insane dreams born of…what?

As an alternative to the screen scrolling, I think and deduce, mostly confirming my own failures or inadequacies. Whether caused by, or causing the night terrors I have always had, there is never joy at 2AM. Turning to a side, rolling to my back looking into night, I realize that all the other men I have known – and not known – have been in this position.

Alone. Black. Silent. My few pounds of brain dance and work in a frenzy that never confers peace, but exhausts to generate the next dream. My father was not a happy man when I knew him. He drank each night to the point of early sleep, often after full on frenzied anger. My grandfather had an intense life, where work was never enough, and his children never followed in his shoes. They could not have found piece in these nocturnal islands of inadequacy.

The world is otherwise good, at times in that silence my inventory finds me fully asymptomatic of all dreads. My wife quietly snores next to me. Sometimes a text or email delights or energizes me. But most often the sense that I do not belong here in this place of dread and post dream confusion asks the simple question:

What is real?

I have known those who use drugs and booze to create a reality that does not exist when not drunk or high, even to the point that they reason that is why they are alive, to live in those states. Are those dreams a reality that somehow we want to live in a place where are fears are as real as our joys? But with zero conscious effort. If I never had a dream again, that would be a joy, despite any insomnia.

We seem to be in a time of dreams and nightmares. When I feel whole and healthy in between dreams, I wake up fat. We go through four years of a bizarre presidency, and soon we will wake up. But we are not cured of ourselves. We are who we have always been, that is why we woke up.

We are in the serial rollercoaster in handcuffs living the COVID19 nightmare, but there is a vaccine, it will be ours in a finite amount of time. The extreme limits, fear, lifestyle headlock will be over. Will we change? Will it be the Roaring ’20’s like the last time this happened?

Our bodies were not changed by this plague – those that live on are what they are, like our bodies between those insane recreations of them we experience in dreams.

The Constitution was always there, despite all the rants of Facism and Socialism, and we come away from the last four years almost perfectly split under its umbrella, like fighting children under its protection in a rainstorm.

I guess each of us is always there when we wake up, too, In the intensity of our brain’s creations, we lose sight, I lose sight: that the rest of my reality is not living in my dreams.

That is something.

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