This I prayed: Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.
And then I, at a very tender age, would lie awake pondering my death. A bedtime ritual I could have done without. Maybe I’ve just discovered a root of all my behavior problems.
You know the premarital counsel: Never go to bed angry. I lost a lot of sleep over that one too. There is always a new anger du jour if you let it in.
Sleep spoiler: fretting about my ability to fall asleep, worrying about sleeping through an alarm and missing a deadline.
The balm of laughter that friendships create seems always worth the sacrifice of sleep. On an ordinary day that comes in the form of late night political humor: Trevor Noah, SNL, any comic relief. On the other hand, there is the lure of late night solitude away from housemates and phone rings and door nocks. I’ve been there.
And then to ruin precious shut eye, there’s always John Wesley’s admonition: Have I done all the good I can?
I am slow to mature; slow to recognize my mortality, slow in my willingness to end this day. I have never wanted to give up my ability to move about at will, taking it all in, being “Little Miss Independent,” invincible. But regardless of what goes on in my mind, when my body says it is time for sleep there is no stopping me. If I can get prone somewhere, that’s all she wrote. But to willingly give up life to sleep is to go to a dark, vulnerable, possibly deadly place.
Being sleep deprived will do the same. I have learned that, “sleep hygiene” is just as important as food and exercise. All this self-help is putting a damper on my style.
Okay, I confess my limits. Like the time I took my sore knee for a walk when it really needed rest, I am not the sole authority in my life. I will embrace sleep and relinquish my life to the Caretaker to whom I trust. The Caretaker will deal with all my regrets and provide comfort in my renewal. Some days I feel like I need an entire Board of Directors but my faith informs me that eight hours with the Caretaker is what my soul needs. All the better for being awake during the remaining sixteen.
The thought of death keeps me awake during the day now while I prepare for whatever change comes my way. I have a relatively strange appetite for shrinking my belongings, embracing simplicity and getting down to the bone of my existence, a process that is long and hard for someone of privilege.
I’ve taken a poll among my friends and we all agree that, when it is time, to die before we wake is the preferable way to go.