It’s three o’clock in the morning and I’m very busy lying here working on my to-do list. I’m almost finished digesting a salami and cheese midnight sandwich and I’m beginning to figure out the barking pattern of that sad dog on the next block. Then maybe I’ll come up with an idea for this blog.
Ms Thalia, my ancient Greek muse, often works nights and sometimes gives me what seems to be a real brainstorm while I’m tossing and/or turning. I jot it down in the dark in my note pad and try to read my scrawl at dawn.
Once, years ago, when I was a humor columnist, it took me hours to decipher Thalia’s “Shopping for clothing” suggestion. It was a very ripe idea, ruined by my faulty penmanship. I read it the next morning as “Stopping for nothing”. The result was a column completely lacking in structure and humor. My editor said it read like the ravings of a madman and suggested psychotherapy.
I’m fully awake now with no trace of the dull buzz that comes just before I drop off, so let’s get to today’s subject of “Sleep” inspired by my muse or perhaps by the salami and cheese sandwich.
Sleep is mankind’s universal pastime. (We can’t call it an activity.) We spend one-third of our lives in its realm. If we could do it all at once, we would sleep until about our twenty-second birthday and then proceed, wakeful and uninterrupted, for the next forty-four years or so.
However, we’re not built that way. It is essential that we slip into unconciousness at regular intervals to maintain a certain level of well-being and to avoid walking into things and falling off chairs at our workplaces.
Periodic sleep is required to soften the sharper edges of life and should be a welcome interlude in the hectic pace that society sets. But man, the only animal capable of prolonged worry, has invented insomnia so he can fret about many things including not being able to fall asleep.
Insomnia is not all bad for all people. Many are making a nice living off other people’s wakefulness, by selling them pills and advice. If it weren’t for insomniacs, late night entertainers like Jimmy Kimmel might otherwise be selling vacuum cleaners door to door.
However, our subject is not insomnia, but sleep which Ovid called, “The most gentle of divinities”. Shakespeare said it is “Nature’s soft nurse.” I agree with both. I’ve always had an affinity with divinities and an appreciation of soft nurses.
While insomnia is not all bad, sleep is not all good. Going to sleep is like pressing the fast forward button, making one-third of our day flash by in 40 or more blinks. But we need sleep like we need coffee breaks, seventh inning stretches, holidays, weekends and vacations. Most of us are designed for the 100-meter dash and not the marathon.
Sleep is therefore…..Wait a minute! Did I detect something there. Is sleep finally approaching? Did you hear a buzzzzzzzzzzz?