“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” — popularized by Benjamin Franklin
Sometimes I go to bed early because I just can’t stand another minute of being awake in this world. I set aside little projects, put my pretty glass of water on the shelf near the bed so as not to bother my neighbor with thirsty midnight wanderings that might creak on her ceiling, and hope to read until oblivion. Sometimes it comes quickly, but most times not so much.
After looking back on the day, the days, the weeks, months, a lifetime, my mind cannot rest because it feels like all the things it wants to say, to shout, to megaphone, telegraph, all the change bonfires it wants to set or incite mean nothing. Smug minds are sleeping cozy in their righteousness while I lie awake thinking about injustice, or tiny personal wounds or the greater ones that deforest this thing called humanity keep after me. I can’t sleep when everything feels so wrong, even while counting my blessings, acknowledging with deep, deeper gratefulness for all these things. I am safe, warm, and fed in my bed grinding my teeth, feeling afraid for the future of your great grandchildren, and yes, still sorrowing for the vacancies, lapses, and longings in my own life. I cannot sleep even though I count a rosary of gratefulness, though I delve down into breathing and the art of silence, hoping to form a memory palace, but the mental noise is still too great. I cannot sleep because I despair, wanting with a need so great it grinds sinews for I cannot go back and undo my mistakes. That the world would be a better place if it would just listen to me and do as I say, because I am right, and the shock when I realize I’m no better than you are with that kind of controlling attitude. I can’t sleep because I realize how wrong I have been, so all there is left to do is get up and write.
It’s hard to let go of despair when I realize that writing about peace, love, decency, honor, sacrifice, family, gratitude, amounts to what feels like a hilla beans. Hell, if it were a hilla beans at least it would offer a chance for somebody to plant and grow and share sustenance. I feel like all I got now is Times New Roman type on a white page seen by few, something that provides no sustenance, in a world where women and children sift through garbage because it’s their normal, knowing if I introduced them to clean water in plastic bottles, grocery store food, amazon delivers you things you didn’t know you wanted, media that tells you that you are unwashed and need to better yourself, that you need a constition and a militia to save you from poverty, perhaps I am the crazy one, and you were better left in your simple, scavenging life. I can’t sleep because the things I want to say to people who do not matter conflict with the things that do. I can’t fix the whole world though I want to, like it’s my job or something, and I’m trying to figure out the best way to make my shade satisfied in the end. Perhaps no shade goes to rest satisfied? Or perhaps they all do because they know that this earthly, mortal mess in between mighty fields of beautiful ain’t nothing but a thang.
I need to sleep in the dirt and drink from a stream and walk farther than I meant to because I am not a resident of this land. I need to sleep beneath great black blankets of night and peeping stars, flashing skies that observe me peeing behind a stand of trees because life is just so much better when it comes by the cupful. No one of us can right the tilt of the world, its temperature, its depth. How can I convince the rest of the world that we can coexist, if only we respect?