I have a real bad relationship with sleep. In general, I’ve found that I have some sort of ridiculous ego trip that causes me to resent things that are forced upon me. I’m pretty certain that resentment is one of the foundations many of my problems are built upon, such as food (I have to eat), sleep (I have to rest), and timeliness (life tends to demand you are certain places at certain times). It’s clearly a ridiculous problem (and certainly not the only thing contributing to those issues) but it’s definitely a part of who I am. However, my issues with sleep go well beyond that – and I’m not the only one.
Insomnia seems to haunt the members of my family like some sort of familial ghost. When I was young, my grandmother told me our ancestors must have been from a different planet where the day and the night were opposite of those on Earth. I’m pretty sure she was sincere, which confused the hell out of me – even as a little kid I was fairly certain the universe didn’t work that way. The fact that she was suggesting we were from another planet, however, didn’t phase me at all.
Whether it’s my father, who I suspect has the same resentment issues I have, my mother, who certainly doesn’t, my brother, my grandmother, even my sister, who’s about as normal as my kind come – all of us regularly face the spectre of a long night awake and alone. Though I’ve often wondered what it is we all have in common (other than our alien DNA of course) that might be the underlying cause of our shared sleep deprivation, I’ve never really come to a good answer. At least, not until recently.
My brother is friends with a Shaman who oversees Ayahuasca ceremonies up in Humboldt, that he often turns to for advice. In a recent conversation, I asked my brother if he’d ever asked his friend about his trouble sleeping and if he’d had any suggestions. He had, and the Shaman’s answer had been (something to this effect):
The cure for insomnia is to go to bed proud of the day you’ve just lived
As I lay here tonight, unable to sleep, I’ve been asking myself – Could I have accomplished more today? Could I have utilized my time better? But I think those are the wrong questions. In fact, I think those questions are the root of my problem, as those same questions have sort of been the unspoken dialogue to my thoughts many a sleepless night. Always fretting about what wasn’t accomplished. Always replaying mistakes in my head.
Until recently, I don’t think I’d have ever thought self-image could be at the root of my insomnia, but now that I’m considering it, it seems plausible. I was productive today. I ate well, I worked, I went out and watched a movie with my family. By nearly any objective measure you could come up with, my day was a success. So the question I should be asking is – Why can’t I be proud with what I’ve done today?