I hadnt slept so well the night before last…in fact the more I tried to fall asleep the more worried I became…suddenly aware of all the things that I might have done wrong in my life to all the things that could cause my life to end right then and there! The beloved darkness. That daily long awaited time when we know its okay to feel tired, sleepy and give in to our weariness. Some days it seems the darkness doesnt come soon enough and we have to stretch our waiting period by taking a quick nap in the heat of the afternoon. So what is the “beloved darkness” when we awake to it from our sound rest of the night with sudden wakefulness! No longer is it “beloved”. It tends more towards being a condition of annoyance and aggravation daring us to fall back into peaceful slumber. We roll over, turn our pillows, throw covers every way possible trying to recatch the need for sleep. Alas, it doesnt return. Every adult reaches a point that sleep patterns begin to be a challenge. No set pattern or explanation is formed usually. A rational reason for our wakefulness cannot be found. If there were such answers we would no longer be asking physicians, phychiatrists and therapist what could possible solve this mystical change in our lives. Another angle to this humor is that we are not warned about when it will begin in our lives. I remember my mother waking during early morning hours and turning on her light to read. How peculiar I thought she was. Couldnt she find a better time to enjoy her book? She could only murmur ” I couldnt sleep” with an exasperated sigh. I dont know what age she was when this began but I knew my grandmother was also not sleeping but the rest of the world as I knew it was.
So when I myself became “sleepless” during my midlife I did not recognize it as an oncoming life change. I too merely thought something disturbed me and quickly mentally searched all that was wrong in my life so I could find a rational reason for my waking and being anxious about being awake. I usually ended up mentally distraught which produced nothing positive at all, only to wear myself out around daylight so that I would doze off until the alarm rewoke me shortly after.
Last night I took an entirely different approach. Is it possible that I am awake because I really dont need any more sleep…and who cares why? I feel rested, quite mentally alert and energetic. Go ahead, take advantage of it I thought. After wrestling with this thought for a half hour I decided I could make the best of my wakefulness until I felt I needed rest or sleep again as the day progresses. After all, many bakery employees start early with bread, so why cant I? Up I got and turned on the kitchen lights. As the warm glow of the kitchen flooded the house I felt a slow comfort come over me and replace the feelings of anxiety about being awake. I began to put together my recipe for homemade bread and soon had four loaves in the making. As birds slowly sang the morning rising I was happily sweeping and mopping the tile floors. A load of laundry scented the house with a freshness to the day. The sun rose and the hum of cars with people off to work trickled through the air. I busied away with a calm energy completing the many household tasks I had embarked on. I am happy!
But why not? I have done my “chores” for the day and now as birds sing and children rise I have the time to sit down with a cup of coffee and enjoy them both! Instead of fighting sleep I embraced my wakefulness! I lost my feeling of anxiety, fear and worry and replaced them with pride, fulfillment and confidence for the day!
Perhaps this is the way its suppose to be as we grow mature in our lives. The energy we used to expend on careers, parenthood, and all that goes with it including the tiredness has been returned without direction. I will embrace that energy again as “life” to be used no matter what time of day it is.