The chocolate brownie had no effect on his energy level. It was the end of the day and his body was letting him know in no uncertain terms it was done with his burning the candle at both ends. Fatigue was always a mystery to him; sometimes he’d acquiesce to it grudgingly, collapsing into whatever couch or sleeping arrangement most handy at the time.
At other times fatigue was something to be pushed through. If there really were such things as special angels, he felt one was on his shoulder at various times in his life—getting him home safely after weeks of 16- and 18-hour days. When he was younger, although his body wracked with the nastiest form of dried out eye socket fatigue you could imagine, he remembers how he used to smile, his eyes burning even though he’d just washed his face and hands not seconds earlier, before attempting to lie down.
He understood after that kind of day, the first time he would lay down would not go very well in terms of falling asleep. Oh sure, he would close his eyes, but he could feel them rattling around uncontrollably as his mind refused to let go of the tasks it left behind less than an hour previously. His head accompanied the eye twitching with pounding of its own. He remembers feeling as if a headache were coming on but never actually did.
Now instead of smiling about how not too many other fools would be able to endure the kind of evening he had so many times before, he was chuckling about how Red Bull and other energy drinks had come into vogue (and stayed there). He recalled how some of his co-workers’ hands would tremble after downing three in a row, and enjoyed a good belly laugh at that.
“Why don’t you just suck it up?” he spoke aloud to himself. Seems like all the caffeine in the world isn’t worth shaking like a leaf the rest of the time you are working. For him, there never was any Red Bull drinking. Sleep would come soon enough and deliver its relief; it just would have to wait until work was over and he was home.
The days he slept eight hours the night before were always among his best. People would constantly remind him that you needed to keep a positive attitude. Well, when you’re tired out the ass, he thought, it’s hard to be positive about anything other than making it through the work day. He was always told that humans are creatures of habit, that the ones who get good regular sleep are the ones who have rituals, patterns, if you will, whereby they do the same things before going to bed each night.
As healthy as that may be, he didn’t see how his life’s circumstances would ever permit becoming a ritual sleeper. He laughed once more at the thought of himself having his warm milk at 9 p.m. and then reading in bed until his eyes became fallen and turning out the lights.
He never knew anyone who consistently got good rest—even if they were people who had the luxury of being able to do the same sleep-conducive behavior night after night. America is a country of insomniacs, he thought.
What he felt was a more practical way of living was to just deal with each day as its own unique entity. He would face the day with whatever zeal he was able to muster and proceed accordingly. If he knew he had to go for long stretches of time without a break, he would take pains to pace himself enough that he would have room for at least one big kick during the end of the day’s run.
That was more how life is for most people, he thought. Another thing he always found funny was how people who said they were so tired (all day long at work), suddenly were full of energy when they were about to leave. They might be tired he thought, but it was probably more like disinterested and bored. They were there for the paycheck and taking extra effort was not something they felt required to do; a job well done no matter how long it takes was never a part of the thought process for folks lacking any work ethic to begin with.
At the end of the day, even if it were only for a few hours, the temporary death that is sleep absorbed, enveloped and nourished him. He never remembered his dreams. Occasionally upon awakening, his mind flashed bizarre images of what could have been dream fragments. Most days he rose, hearing various parts of his body crackle as he found his way to the bathroom.
Whether it is sleep or getting ready to begin the day, the body does what it is going to do, and it is never the same from day to day. And as he contentedly brushed his teeth and spat into the sink, it was clear as the day’s sun was shining, that at least on this day, he would not be listening to, or reading, an instructional tome on how best to live your life.