Have you ever found yourself somewhere between the hours of 4 and 6 am needlessly awake? Have you ever realized that is when your brain decides to prompt you with questions and internal dialogues that do not need to be had at that precise moment? Honestly, in a bout of sleeplessness I find myself struggling with a series of layers. Think of it as an existential crisis 7 layer bean dip and you’ll do just fine. My mind as well as my imagination are both fine and dandy. My body is strong, healthy and responsive. Put em together and what have you got? Some bibbity bobbity bullshit at 4:15am. My mind will kick on before my body, beginning with an initial thought of “I’m awake. Now what?” This spurs a responsive dialogue where I begin an argument with myself. Sincerely, the voices in my head fill up the silence quite well. One voice will sound like a child, the other will sound more maternal and understanding.
“We need to go back to sleep. It’s still dark out.”
“What time is it?”
“It doesn’t matter. Close your eyes, and take some deep breaths.”
Some time passes. Although it feels like about 15 minutes I’m fairly certain it’s close to 2 in actuality. This is why freestyle meditations don’t work for me. Although time is an illusion and the constructs of time are human made, there is something comforting about having a grasp on the time we lose.
“Ok, I’m breathing. I don’t feel sleepy anymore.”
“Try focus on feeling your breaths. Quiet yourself. Try some gentle stretches and settle back into a comfortable position.”
“My pants are bunching up.” (Takes pants off)
A few more moments pass.
“Now, I’m cold.” (Puts pants back on)
“It’s so quiet here. Maybe it’s TOO quiet. Maybe we should try the hypnosis videos, those work pretty well.”
I have an efficient system of putting myself to sleep at night. I put my phone on Do Not Disturb, use my clock app to set a timer for 60 minutes where when the time runs out, all apps turn off. If I have to meditate where I’m fairly certain a nap will follow, that’s a trick I use to prevent disruption after. Nobody likes being jostled from a meditative state by a Youtube ad. I’ll open up one of my favorite channels, either “The Honest Guys” or something from Michael Sealey, to help fill the space with gentle ambient noise in the solemness of my darkened room. The videos range from guided meditations, sounds of nature, to hypnosis talk downs.
I chose a specifically designed meditation to get the listener back to sleep. Odds are 50/50 and unfortunately this morning I was wide awake at 5. John Tesh said on the radio if you can’t sleep, try doing something around the house to get some energy out before trying sleep again. Something dull. Maybe some reading would work. It did not. After mindlessly scrolling on my phone and letting my mind wander, I realized what it really wanted was to be heard. Like a small child yanking on their mom’s shirt, I finally stopped to listen.
I began thinking of the dream I had a little while earlier. A friend of mine who I have yet to meet in person was about to go scuba diving. He was with a young man, in his early 20’s. Where we were was certainly not in the waters of NY, but somewhere tropical. I stood on the shore as he started to swim off, but in the next moment found myself in the water with him. I had no swim gear on and was holding my I phone above my head so it wouldn’t get drenched. We swam under rocks and wound up in a large cave with a domed ceiling of stones. The water was clear and pure. I don’t recall feeling cold. Although I’m not the best at swimming, in the dream I didn’t feel terribly scared of getting lost or drowning. I always look to my dreams for information. Do I believe they hold the keys to the answers my soul seeks? Not necessarily. Sometimes dreams are the subconscious throwing out the garbage. Sometimes they are a visit from a loved one on the other side. Sometimes they are prophetic. Yes, I have had dreams like that before.
Letting the dream solidify in my mind by retaining as much detail as possible, I began to mull over the possible messages. I have been thinking about traveling over the past month or two. A break to a warmer climate will do some good, I thought. Now that I was on my way to overcoming a previous aversion to flying, the world has opened itself up to me. Being single with no kids or mortgage, I have the luxury of travel at my disposal. I can choose to pick up and just leave somewhere, even if just for a few brief days. I don’t need a partner or friend to plan an itinerary with. In fact, another person to bring along on an adventure is a liability, not an asset. I have to factor in their needs, wants, and preferences. The privilege of traveling alone affords me me to be as selfish as I want- possibly for the first time in my life. All I need is my imagination, a little money, and a lot of gumption.
Gumption. That’s a word they don’t say anymore. A new friend I made from Tiktok said to me a few times within the month, “You’ve got moxy!” That’s a word that’s quickly dying off, but I took it as a great compliment. Look it up online and use it in a sentence. Resuscitate the word moxy. Stop using ubiquitous, canned adjectives. Any person can say I’m beautiful, I’m smart, I’m sexy, I’m funny, or I’m kind. I am all of these things. I value sincere and creative compliments. Years ago, a man nearly twice my age said, “You are incredibly fuckable.” A phrase like that is an attention grabber. I remember feeling my eyebrows shoot up and my internal organs flip over. Every now and then, I look myself in the mirror and remind myself of that very compliment when I have a feeling of being less than. So gentlemen, do yourselves a favor and take a page from “Dead Poets Society”. Use your words. Language is a spectrum of colors to be used on a canvas of silence.
I finally decide to stop fighting the situation and make peace with the moment. I am awake and may as well make the best use of the extra time God has granted to me. Yes, I just threw down the G word. Although my spiritual quest has taken me on some long and winding roads and I have pointed feelings about the constructs of organized religion, I still believe there is a God. I don’t always see eye to eye with the good Lord, especially after some of the curveballs thrown to me, but I’m trying to make peace with my lack of understanding. There are so many things I cannot wrap my mind around and perhaps that was keeping me awake today. I thought about how I was not only awake, but alive. I am healthy. I am strong. I have no physical defects. I have an immune system that repeatedly has protected me. After attending a beautiful and moving funeral yesterday for a woman who passed from Covid, I am reminded once more several things: 1) Life is unpredictable 2) Today is a gift 3) You’ll be dead soon, so don’t squander your time. Attending wakes/funerals always snap me back to reality. I am alive today. Something could have happened in the middle of the night to prevent me from being here, but here I am and I am alive. This is a new day.
This is not a typical morning being up so early, so I decide to do some not so typical things. I make a batch of rice water so I can soak my hair later this morning in a deep conditioning treatment. I sit at my keyboard and play several finger exercises from my Hanon book. Instead of criticizing myself for not doing this sooner or not doing all 20 exercises I say, “That’s enough for now. Nobody’s cares how much you do, just do what at you can for now.” I then go back to a Chopin piece I began working on in April of last year. I was pleased my fingers remembered where to go and the music flowed. Music is a true pleasure for me. Music is also a stern mistress reminding me of my inadequacies, but today it was a gentle morning free from creeping doubts. I then got very ambitious and picked up “Clair de Lune”. I started working on this several times over the past few years, but more recently in true earnest. I got three quarters into the first page before I paused and said, “Ok that is all for now”. I didn’t push, effort, force or barrel my way to go further than I could at 6:45 am. Maybe this was the key to living? Maybe I should incorporate more of this gentle behavior with myself during typical days? Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself when I don’t meet all of my expectations and hit all of my goals. I make a hot mug of Earl Grey tea and decide to write. Writing always helps clear my minds clutter up. So that’s what I’m doing. You are witnessing first hand a self soothing strategy hard at work.
As I sit and write this, a text alert pops up on my phone. Here comes some synchronicity for you. It is from a lady who I was in contact with over the summer. Her son Stephen had suffered in the hospital and nearly died from a blood clot. I sent him distance Reiki for weeks, quietly watching her posts on Facebook for his progress. Indeed he did heal and was released from the hospital nearly 2 months later. God was kind to him. He lived. In a moment of bitterness, I ask God why he allowed my beautiful friend Angela to die in a hospital from a blood clot in her lungs. She was in her mid twenties and was taken far too soon. I didn’t get to say goodbye and I’m still bitter about that. She came to me in a dream in December of 2019 and said she was all right, so I will accept that as the goodbye I was robbed of. Working with Stephen, I quietly battled with God and my emotions. I got to witness first hand the powerful effects of medical science coupled with prayers from hundreds of people, as well as Reiki. I cannot in good conscience say Reiki “saved him” or “healed him”. I cannot call myself a healer. I have been trained to avoid falling into the ego trap of believing myself as some sort of miracle worker or extended Hand of God. What happened with Stephen was nothing short of a miracle, and I still feel God’s presence in remembering what happened. Because of this experience, she and I have become friends. One day, I told her I’d like to meet her son. She informed me of a friend who suffered a brain hemorrhage last night and asked if I can send some distance Reiki to this person. I spoke with her briefly and I got clearance to visit in person at the hospital this morning. Time to go to work.
Now I know why I was up so early. I would have still been asleep when I got this emergency text.
All right, Lord. I got the message. Thank you.