Monday, December 05, 2005

Varieties of Sleep

Warning: this is a post of the Seinfeldian variety. That is, it's mostly about nothing.

A few weeks ago, after haven taken the grand-Islanders Trick-or-Treating, I was lying, exhausted, in bed on the edge of sleep. As I snuggled down into the covers, hearing the cold wind moan outside my window, it occurred to me how much this sensation differed from falling asleep outdoors in daylight.

I know, Deep thoughts, Maynard. But I warned you.

Falling asleep outside is a light sleep. It is as though a part of my brain stays alert for unfamiliar sounds or the approach of unexpected presences. Even with this lack of depth, few things are as sweet as lying warmed by the sun, lulled by the humming of bees and the scent of green, growing things, and just drifting imperceptibly to sleep.

Falling to sleep with the sound of ocean surf produces in me a sleep that is almost like being drugged. Once, Mrs. Islander and I got away for the weekend to a costal hotel, sleeping in a room that overlooked a Pacific beach. I could almost feel the work-a-day stress sliding off of me like a heavy coat. That night, to the sound of the waves, my sleep was insensate.

Falling asleep in a warm bed during a cold winter’s night is sleep filled with the smugness of your isolation from the discomfort outside. Mrs Islander and I enjoy keeping a window ajar year ‘round, so the air on our faces is cool. This causes the warmth of the quilts and comforters to be that much sweeter.

When I was a child, sleep seemed an interruption of long, glorious days. I fully understand why a child cries at bedtime. When I was a solider, sleep was a wonderful break from the stesses of martial life. (In fact, in boot camp I discovered how to fall asleep anywhere, anytime I had a few spare minutes. It's a talent that I sadly had to unlearn.)

Now, as I enter my mid-fifties, I find that my only bars to sleep are the aches and pains that the flesh is heir to. And for that I have ibuprophen.

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