Last night I woke up. I had to go to the bathroom, so I did that. Then,
feeling a bit of indigestion, I went into the kitchen and got a little
cold water. I went back to the bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed
and drank it. I got under the covers and pulled the blanket up to my
chest. Under it, I ran my fingers and palms over the coolness of the
sheets — something that has always given me great pleasure.
I knew I should have turned on the oxygen machine and put the cannula
in my nose. But once again, I was too stubborn. The cannula just has a
tendency to fall off my nose anyway once I get to sleep. I would have to
duct tape it to my cheeks to get it to stay. It doesn't seem worth it.
Once, a long time ago it seems, I wondered what it would be like not to
have to breathe. And I listened to the rowers on the barque, heading
towards dawn, and realized what it would be like never to have to
I passed on the oxygen. I began to wonder what it would be like never to
have to sleep.
We humans need sleep. Our physical brains need it. Without sleep, without
those periods of unconsciousness where we can turn off our brain for a
while, reality shreds itself, we go mad.
Over the past years my sleep periods — that is what I must call them —
have been unusual to say the least. I have problems with insomnia
sometimes. I also have trouble breathing, caused by the fact that my
heart isn't pumping enough blood to my lungs. If I sleep with my torso
angled up on the pillows it helps me to get more oxygen, but usually I
will slide down a bit as I sleep and eventually the lack of oxygen will
wake me up. So I sit up for a while. Sometimes, there not being a lot to
do in the middle of the night, I will go to the computer and work. Or
sometimes I just sit there and let my thoughts drift.
Then too there has been my dog, Baron. He died last June, but before
that, in fact for several years, he would wake me up wanting down off
the bed. He had become an older dog with sore bones. So I would have
to put him down off the bed, wait till he returned from getting himself
a drink or some kibbles in the kitchen, then pick him up and put him on
the bed again.
About that time it was usually getting morning. All the little sounds
would begin to rise up — the sound of distant traffic, people running
water in my building, doors opening and closing. The sounds of morning.
Finally, after a while, I would get back to sleep.
Over a period of two years I doubt that I have gottten more than three
straight hours of sleep on any one night. These have been my "nights" —
awake, then asleep for a bit, then awake again, then asleep, then awake
and then asleep again.
It has been downright crazy. But that has been my life.
As I laid in bed last night, I wondered about sleep. Or the lack of it.
My earthly body needs sleep. But what if I would leave it? No brain, no
body, no need for sleep. No more would there be a way to turn my mind
off. No comforting cave of sleep to hide in. Just pure consciousness.
Just learning: The mathematics of weather patterns on a distant world.
The chemistry of the nucleotides of a species of fern. The physics of an
imploding star. Sunset and sunrise on a million worlds.
Eternal night and light. Far from sleep, forever.