Monday, November 12, 2007

sleepless in shell knob

Jaimes Alsop is/was a poet who wrote some lovely stuff (I know he's still around, just not finding any recent works). Evidence of Miracles and Beauty and the Beast seem to be two of his more popular pieces. But one came across GAZ several years ago that truly resonated with me. I do not remember the title and can't quote it verbatim, but in it the speaker was talking about waking up at three or four am and being unable to sleep and getting up quietly as to not awaken his wife. And he made reference to the years old regrets that seem to surface when one is sitting in a quiet house in the early morning hours holding a book one is not really reading.

I think of this poem whenever I'm suffering from these episodes, probably because it makes me feel a little less alone to think that somewhere out there, there are other people suffering from being awake when the rest of the world is sleeping. Half-awake, I try with thick fingers to untangle the snarled skeins of being middle-aged, weighted down with all the things I should have done differently, all the people I've let down, the bills I can't pay because there's simply not enough coming in whether I'm working or not, my dirty house, the animals I'm neglecting, my children who deserve a better mother and my husband who deserves a better life. Yes, it really does get that bad sometimes.

I voiced this struggle to my mother who assures me I'm quite normal and that all I need to do is invest in meditation tapes (she's rather fond of some goddess of nature mantras put to the notes of a lyre, whale songs, wind and water in the background) and a set of headphones. Apparently, my artist-aunt, who is ten years older than my mother, taught her this trick. Some old ladies read themselves to sleep, my aunt chants . . .

My answer so far has been to pray, but it doesn't seem to help much. God is a good listener, but the conversation is somewhat one sided. I'd really appreciate it if he'd at least throw in an "Uh-huh" from time to time so I know for sure that he hasn't put the phone down and gone off to make himself a sandwich. While he doesn't yawn, pat me on the head and tell me to take a sleeping pill, then roll over and go back to sleep like some husbands I could mention, a grunt would be better than nothing.

I guess I'll just do what I've always done and wait for this to pass or life to stabilize, whichever comes first.


Unknown said...

I can relate to everything you mentioned: from God, to kids, to house, to holding unread books.

Let me ask you this; do you find that these moods are cyclical? It seems like every once in a while we simply need a season of ugly self-examination to put all that good in our lives into perspective. So when I go through it, I try to remind myself that it's probably chemical and that I just need to slog my way through. Even in the muck, I can objectively see that I'm leading a good life, and if I've got you pegged right, you could probably say the same.

So what's 'shell knob'? Is that where you live?

Mary O. Paddock said...

Hi CD. It's not so much cyclical as it is circumstantial. I'm under some stress right now that will eventually work itself out.

Yes, I've got a very good life. God's blessed me with a great husband and fantastic kids. We have a roof (of our own) over our head, friends and family around us. That's a lot more than many.

Yes, Shell Knob is the small town I live in--just north of the Arkansas state line.