MAKING THE BEST OF BEING SLEEPLESS IN THE SUBURBS
I am a creative sleeper.
I do not go to bed at 11:30 and wake up at 7 in the morning. Too predictable, too rote. I go to bed at 11 or 12 or 1, fall asleep fairly quickly, only to get up at 1:30 or 2:30 or 4 a.m. So rather than call myself some thing (such as an insomniac), when the subject of slumber comes up, I just say, “Well, every night’s sleep is different for me.” I’m a creative sleeper, in that no two nights are the same, and so many nights-that-are-nearly-mornings become different little adventures for a certain buzzing, bedeviled, featherless owl.
Like the other night… I got up around 1:30, deciding between herbal tea or red wine, and undecided, walked to the sliding glass door to our backyard deck, stepped out, and looked up to see Cassiopeia, Scorpius, and my birth constellation, Leo. It was not only bracing, and vivid, it was pleasing. I’m sure I was smiling as I thought, “Oh yeah. The universe.”
To say that there are many things to keep oneself up at night is akin to saying the earth is a sphere, not a pancake. Obviousness is its own underline. A large hurricane that crushed poor Haiti was fast approaching the eastern shores of Florida; too many people are shooting one another in our cities and small towns, too; the common people of Syria are being decimated, starved, buried alive; and here, in our Republic, a loosely organized lunatic and successful huckster is running for the presidency against a protective, unpopular, policy wonk and shoulder-shimmying grandmother. It is possible that our 240-year-old democracy hangs in the balance.
Otherwise, not much.
I am also a creative person during the daylight hours. On a mundane level, I have been an advertising, marketing and corporate design person for the past 30-odd years. In a more psychic sphere, I am otherwise: one half poet, online muser and intermittent meditation instructor. I am—in the right light—a funky, bird-feeding, slaphappy suburban mystic. But I am something other than that. My lesser half is dual, and less dynamic. It’s a Midnight Cowboy duo, an alluring news junkie and his disheveled, worrywart companion. So, alone, seated before a screen, I’m not much more than a home computer-powered vigilante. I am on top of everything; which is another way to say… nothing.
Like a catfish with glasses, I look out at a world looking in at me. I occupy the bottom of the tank and gobble up random snippets from around the globe, along with insights, lightly sprinkled with salt and sage, from pundits and politicos. The world may not be going to hell, but it is wobbly, and seriously unhealthy. Our globular host has been infected by over seven billion wired-for-conflict, waste-producing parasites.
But then… there is 1:45 or 2:26 in the night’s faraway corner, when the world is quiet, and the other parasites are snoring like overworked bears, dreaming of fish and coupling and conquest, and, in the hush, solitary and shambolic of hair, attire and mind, one is free to shuffle through the den or the kitchen, make some tea or finish the four-fifths emptied wine bottle, grab a thin slice of turkey, putter by one’s lonesome, inconsequentially, or maybe not, think thoughts of any size, small and silly or large and profound, and in one’s pre-dawn stupor, slightly sated with a tart cabernet and a bit of fowl, amble over to a convenient late night portal, and sliding it open, come face to face with slender, tent-top points of light in the blackness, the biggest big picture, the original face, the endless, invisible pulse, the multi-trillion mile trail of mystery and interstellar craftwork, the roofless domicile of dark matter and angel’s vapors, the big kahuna of suchness, the father of our mother, the source of all riches, the endless, never out, never closed supplier of organic chemicals and music more mathematical, more magnificent than Mr. Bach himself, the great cosmic cradle, the real home, the house of colored lights and shooting stars, the whole thing, the whole shooting match, the ultimate, the place that knows not, cares not, about breaking news or traffic snarls or cancer stats or the weather in the Bahamas, or drifting snows in Fargo, or bank crises, the Euro zone or Emmy winners, the place that hums endlessly to itself. And to us.
That place, our place. The bigger Our, the ultimate Us. The place we dive off from, swim in, return to.
Late at night, in lieu of sleeping, I shuffled over to my back sliding glass door, opened it, beheld the sky, and saw myself.
Ken Taub is a copywriter, strategic marketing advisor, author, online journalist, and associate editor of RoelResources.com. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and son.