14 November 2012

When Sleep May Come


I think I have forgotten how to sleep. Oh, not that I do not slip out of waking consciousness and into a dream state, but that the body no longer seems to know how to be comfortable. I awaken throughout the night with arms aching from having been used as pillows instead of the multiple and costly pillows which I continue to stack on the bed. Sometimes I am awakened by the body as an emergency response to a limb numbed from having been somehow in my restless sleep been so positioned to be deprived of blood. I wake with phantom arms and lie restlessly and uncomfortably awaiting a return of presence in some tingly recovery of sensory feeling. At other times I am awakened by the pain in the bones and joints that comprise my knees that have begun to ache from having been stacked one atop the other as I lie in my sleep in a fetal position. Or I awaken with some regularity to trudge to the bathroom. Sometimes, E.T. phones home and I answer the call.
Or I dream. And in these dreams as I enact desire I am not restful.
I wonder when it was that I lost the ability to sleep restfully. It is a curious disability, I think, to have moved into positions that make sleep uncomfortable. No matter how many pillows I purchase they provide little comfort and minimal ease. Perhaps it is the mind’s refusal to tolerate death’s counterfeit that unsettles the body: rage, rage, against the dying of the light! The mind will not let the body sleep. Or perhaps it is exactly the opposite: the body will not rest, rest perturbed spirit.
Poor Macbeth despairs that he has murdered sleep by killing Duncan in his sleep. Lady Macbeth does not rest easily in the night: she walks the castle in her sleep sorely troubled. “A great perturbation in nature, to receive at once the benefits of sleep and do the effects of watching.” Lady Macbeth is getting no rest. I awaken all night from my failure to remember how to stay asleep.
It seems odd to consider that sleep is somehow learned and that it might then be also forgotten. Having once known well how to sleep, in the present moment I have lost that capacity but I have killed no king. 

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not a killing you commit, it's a disappearing - and it's bloodless.

15 November, 2012 07:06  
Anonymous Barbara said...

For me, it is often simply the darkening of the day that makes sleep come more slowly. In these earlier days of darkness, the routine acts of living quiet sooner and more serious thoughts seep in unchecked.

In the dark, sacred night, truth turns to liquid and is swallowed more easily--yet harder to digest and expel. "Have I done enough for humanity today? Did I perform enough random acts of kindness? Did I leave the world a better place than when I greeted the new day? Should I leave my current place of existence and act upon my vision of what I think needs to happen?" These thoughts churn and churn in the darkness and I know not how to subdue them except to weep until they are washed from their hiding place and exhaustion causes sleep to come.

17 November, 2012 12:15  

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