When you get close to the time that you’re supposed to be going to bed and you know you’re still not quite ready, what is it that you do to make yourself tired enough so that when your head hits the pillow, you drift off in a matter of minutes?
I’m usually tired enough to go to bed almost any time. I need to sometimes stretch in bed and the way I do that is I just toss and turn…a lot. Can be quite disruptive to my two sleeping partners, but hey, if I’m anticipating excess tossing and turning, what typically puts me in the mood for good slumber is turning to writing.
When you were a baby, I heard you were the best baby. You just slept without nary a care. Never cried before bed or anything, you just would maybe hit the bottle some (or so I’ve heard) and then you’d go to sleep without any need of rocking or singing to. Even back then, I heard if you were interested in singing at all, it was typically your own singing that was all you needed to hear. You dabbled then, as now, with occasionally listening to other people sing, but even after hearing some pretty golden throats, you always felt happiest when it was you who was singing and other people doing the listening.
You were a happy baby, Bob. You used to play with a couple of clothespins for hours if anyone would bother to give them to you. Even back then, you were championing the underdog. In this case, the underdog was the clothespin. Every other baby whined until they got some kind of mobile toy (I’m not talking cell phone, either) or figurine. All you needed was the clothespin. Occasionally you would be among friends and try to get them to play with your clothespins only to find out they would end up crying for a real toy. You didn’t care, Bob. You just made use of the clothespin–probably the first toy from the land of misfit toys, too, and you enjoyed it. It was as if it was the greatest thing in the world. Even back then you didn’t care that others thought you somewhat off for being satisfied with clothespins as recreational devices.
When you got a little older you enjoyed haircuts, but you didn’t like them much for awhile, especially around the time of the British invasion and the Beatles. You didn’t necessarily like the Beatles’ music, although you played it on guitar and sang their songs well enough–learning more than enough of a repertoire to do a good two hours of songs. Everyone loved the Beatles so that’s what you gave them. When you began writing your own songs, they hardly sounded anything resembling the Fab Four’s output. Your songs sounded like whatever long-haired kids play when they are alone and have time on their hands. Some of your friends thought they were pretty cool, though, so your confidence grew and you continued to write.
Typing was one of the things you learned in school and it’s continued to serve you well to this day. You type when you need to and while the pain of carpal tunnel has forced you to alter your technique, you can still rip off chunks of words at frightening speeds even if only for a fraction of the time you could before the malady struck. You’ve never had any regrets; you’ve just lived, tried to do the best you could and then you went home–wherever that was.
Your fingers start to tingle the more you stay at the keyboard these days. It’s a common reminder that carpal tunnel and other age-related conditions like arthritis catch up with anyone who lives long enough and gets his word on. Writing, like all passions of gluttony, is best served in moderation. You’ve always known this. But, your quest to continually outdistance those that would quit and go to bed is never denied.
So, you wonder where this sojourn after dark and after bedtime will end. They say the journey should be enjoyed and the destination is not that important. When the destination is my sleep, I say this tenet of life philosophers should be reversed in favor of the destination. I write, tonight, so that I might sleep. As always, the best of what I write is from ideas continually flowing from my brain out through my fingertips like a waterfall.
Such is the continual, daily cycle of the life that I live. Who is to say what is important or not? Yes, I understand that experts recommend we get eight hours of sleep a night. Well, life’s not perfect and neither are one’s sleep cycles–even the experts. If we could absolutely control our lives, then yes, I agree, it would be best to get eight hours of sleep every night. But, tonight, I think of eight hours of sleep each night as boring.
I say boring because who hasn’t known the greatness that can be had while one functions in a sleep-deprived state? Everything is riding on your performance and you suddenly reach deep down (like Babe Ruth on May 25, 1935, when he socked three home runs for the Boston Braves against all odds), and perform better than your peers with eight hours sleep.
The Babe should have retired after that game, but he did not. I just suppressed a yawn, and unlike the Babe at the end of May so many years ago, I am going to retire after writing perhaps not the equivalent of a three-home run column, but maybe hitting the writer’s equivalent of a snoring cycle–a single, double, triple and home run all in one piece.
Agree or not, that’s all folks. In the immortal words of Edward R. Murrow and regarding all of our chances for sleep this evening, “Good Night, and Good Luck!”