I have long been thankful that humans – and most creatures – require sleep. No matter how determined, how frantic, how executive, controlling, even insomniac a person may be, eventually, sleep’s gonna win. Every pesky little doer is going to be taken out of commission, made vulnerable, and rejuvenated through a host of mysterious mental and physical processes. And on a regular basis. So… may as well find a dark nest and accept it.

I love that it’s mostly unconscious, but still one is aware of time having passed afterward. A solid chunk of relief from I, from thought – and the awareness that it happened, even though there’s really nothing to remember. Long hours of simple bodily being, practically without effort. As a sucky meditator, but one who loves it on the rare instances when it “works,” this is a spectacular reprieve. Being in a body is a strange experience, so damn particular all the time, bounded and defined. But when it gets dark– the sublime melt. Good practice for death, though who knows what that’s like. Good practice for surrender, for succumbing, for giving over what doesn’t belong to me, not permanently anyway.

Of course, it is interrupted by absurdities, which are in turn laced with archetypes – two of the most interesting things around, really. But even without dreams, there is no boredom. Thank the powers of evolution that it’s not possible to lie asleep bored for a third of one’s life.

And arguably, humankind does the least damage while hitting the sack. Arlo Guthrie has said that he prefers a sleeping president. After all, who can you bomb while you’re sawing logs? On a smaller scale, I know I do the world no favors when I am sleep-deprived. Even a few missed hours on a single night, and I’m beastly. This is why statistics on the ever-decreasing average nightly conk-out time of American citizens so alarms me. People of the nation, save yourselves and the world. Hear my impassioned cry for more sleep: (yawns)

Sleep makes wakefulness beautiful, or at least bearable. In these dark days, sleep is even more a confidant, a lover, a land to be explored.  So good morning. I hope it was lovely. And, in not so long – good night.

To let a quiet man be

The man seated in the deli was motionless. There was no plate or cup before him, nor newspaper nor wallet. His head was bowed. I went round with my broom and pan to glance from the corner of my eye, pretending to sweep crumbs. Yes, he is asleep. Sleeping in the deli after sunset on St. Patrick’s Day. I should tell a manager, I suppose, and do: “There’s a man sleeping in the deli.”

I expect action but she says, “Oh yes… he’s been there since six, I think.” She blinks. “He doesn’t seem to be drunk and he isn’t noisy, so we will let him stay.”

I am glad and tell her. How hard was that? How hard to let a quiet man sleep, here in a place of commerce on a night known for wildness? So easy. An easy kindness. Why not? Who would be hurt? Yet so few I know would let him be.

In the dark before dawn

In the dark before dawn when you roll over in bed and discover that you are mostly awake
There is a space inside where you move about, even as you lie still and hope for more sleep
Sometimes you wander through glens of green flowers with yellow stems
Sometimes you follow the sound of crashing water, knowing once you arrive
You’ll dissolve into the falls
But sometimes mind grabs control, and you become instead a dot matrix printer
Grinding out lists and points of contention and important things to remember
And it goes like this, wandering in place, until dawn.