Pinned

Pinned-Moths_LGIn a recent dream I found my limbs crossed under rubble—arm rested on arm and leg on leg and no moving them. And when I shifted in bed to relieve the thought, my neck hinged with all the weight of my body above it, loading it. Moving once more, the hinge transferred to my waist. I couldn’t unbend because this dream was cramped, no room remained.

Waking was wonderful. Having so much space relieved me, and I walked downstairs, drank a glass of water, and traveled back to my bed again, banishing the dream and reminding myself of the square feet of my home, my comfort and safety. I slept well after that.

I’m unclear why this dream visited or what it meant to say. We’re all prone to those cul-de-sacs that unsettle sleep, sick dreams with stuttering plot lines reveling in futility. An arm pinned beneath me, an extra fold of pillow, an overused posture may have started it, or something less physical. Maybe the day’s frustrations butted into corners again. Maybe earlier conversations turned on themselves, and spun like drunks stuck between walls.

As a fifth grader, I used to ride my bike to school and, nervous even then, I’d wake too early just to assure I’d set off in time. My clock radio clicked, and nearly every day—heavy radio rotation being what it was—I heard “Everybody’s Talkin’” by Harry Nilsson, a song I only understood as tone, his grayish brown moaning akin to clouds hanging over Texas City, the next town over, home of Union Carbide and Monsanto refineries.

Just as now, sleep seemed better. Why should I get up? My dreams hadn’t granted much respite, and the day promised little. Harry Nilsson couldn’t even make words, going “Wahh, Waaahh-wa-waaah-wahn-wah” and dooming the next hours before they started. Oh, what gratitude I felt when, for whatever reason muster-able, I wouldn’t have to go. Absolved, I’d sleep again. In complete peace.

Not much has changed. The importance of routine makes a bigger impression now that I’ve grown up—I know how daily workouts or a regular schedule or positive patterns of waking and sleeping add up. And I don’t really want to not work. Yet affirmations don’t make tedium easier. Though nearly every 7:15 am finds me sitting at my desk, slumped over a stack of papers, the greatest reprieve is still turning, stretching, and returning to sleep.

But you shouldn’t admit that. I think sometimes how far we are from early humanity and what they may have felt with no alarm to wake them. They must have had their own anxieties—like being hunted and mauled—but all of what we call progress could mean nothing to them. We might explain it. They might understand, and then ask, “And, that’s better because…?”

We make more and more, not just physically but conceptually, so much so our inventions seem material, the necessities that are truly fabricated and the obligations written in stone that really belong in sand. We can’t give ourselves a break. We can’t rest.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Aging, Doubt, Envy, Essays, Home Life, Identity, Insomnia, Laments, life, Meditations, Modern Life, Sturm und Drang, Thoughts, Time, Worry

2 responses to “Pinned

  1. dhefko

    I read the second half of your essay with Harry Nilsson’s accompaniment talking at me as I talked your writing out loud–a real pleasure. It makes me wonder if there authors who write about/to music and who invite readers to read their writing in harmony with particular pieces. I recently reread Poe’s “House of Usher” and played some of the music Roderick’s mad improvisations were said to be based on in the background, and it, too, was a wonderful experience. A final unrelated note: I recently heard/read about the idea that Native Americans (I think) would drink copious amounts of water before sleep in order to force themselves to wake up early when circumstances required it (a raid was, I think, the example that was given).

    • dmarshall58

      I’ve heard of nature’s alarm clock too, and it makes sense… sure works for me now.

      When I wrote this essay, naturally the Nilsson song played in my head almost the entire time (it just started again, drat), so I imagine it did accompany me. A lot of people write to music and it sounds exciting to write something with the specific music in mind. I’m not clever enough to write a libretto, but it’d be fun to write something Laurie Anderson style. —D

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s