I have not been to sleep yet. It is a little bit annoy. I gave it a good go, though. We finished up watching the end of Beef on Netflix (which is astonishingly good, and displays wild escalation from a brief road rage incident, going to places I had not imagined; you should add it to your list), I felt a bit yawny, got settled in for bed after a few more pages of my book… and nothing. I dragged myself back out of bed at half past twelve instead of just lying there. The thing I’ve always found important to avoid is getting angry about not sleeping. That can be easier said than done if there are a million things to do the next day, or I’m supposed to be up early for something special like traveling. Today I do have quite a lot of things to do, but I have nowhere I need to race off to or present my best possible face to (my long-suffering colleagues will be expecting a Monday face, at best). So I ambled downstairs, made a cup of tea and headed back up to the pleasant darkness of the library to continue reading and listening to white noise in hopes of growing wearier. It didn’t really happen. I did read about another third of my book, then read a short book about Joan Miró. It’s one of those art books where only half the plates are in colour, which rather spoils the overall effect. By then it was maybe two in the morning and sleep felt no closer, so I had another cup of tea and started work instead. As a consequence, I have managed to get many of things I should be doing today done, or at least started. That’s a nice feeling to be going into the week with. I made a final attempt at sleep around five, thinking I could snag a couple of hours snooze and then get on with the usual routine. It was not to be. The important thing is that I haven’t wasted that unsleeping time by being annoyed about it or tossing and turning (much). I’ve done some exercise, I’m writing this, hopefully a short story will follow and I’ll do as much of the day as I can, aiming to crash as late as possible and get back into the swing of things for tomorrow. I’m definitely blaming my dinky lie-in yesterday for this!
The sensation of not having been to sleep is an odd one. The process and cycle of slumber do seem hard-coded in us, and it’s not just that my eyes feel a bit dry and I’m yawning cavernously, but there’s a great wrongness to seeing in another day without having been absent for a time. I rather like knowing that for at least a few hours a day I’m not really here at all, consciousness switched off. Sure, my mind is busy doing whatever it can to convert short-term memories to deep storage and otherwise hallucinating in the darkness, but there’s such comfort in knowing I don’t have to be myself for twenty-four hours a day. That glorious oblivion is what I’ve always sought in drugs of all forms, from alcohol to amitriptyline. Somewhere in it is that point when I stop being aware of myself, ideally even losing track of knowing that I’m distinct from all the other motes of matter blowing around. It’s so refreshing and such a relief to not be for a while. Sleep is like that, I think. There are many ways to reach that state; being deep in flow, or in a book or film can get close. My friend Guy would tell me I can achieve it through meditation and sensory deprivation. Whatever the path, there’s something important about checking out entirely now and again. Ideally nightly, at least. Along with accepting that sometimes I’m not going sleep comes a lesser determination not to force that sleep either. Had I not purposely removed all the proper booze from the house (fear not, it’s just out of reach in the garage – plainly an insurmountable challenge), and had this been a few weeks ago I would certainly have tried the large glass of whiskey approach to slumber. It helps a bit, but not as much as just giving up on the sleep for a while. I vaguely remember a Christmas Eve many years ago when I just could not sleep, but was so desperate to that I found myself drinking vodka and necking far too many amitriptyline. I’d like to avoid that burning need to be sleep, and as long as this doesn’t become a daily (nightly?) thing, I remain optimistic that I’ll be OK. Even if the yawning makes me pull something in my side. Hurray for ageing.