Anyone who knows me well will confirm that insomnia is a non-stop affliction that I deal with so much that I even forget that I am dealing with it (I don’t deal with it well, for the record). But it’s not nice. Or healthy.
Something arrived in my inbox today, quite coincidentally, making mention of the issue via Maria Popova at Brainpickings and detailing a technique that Patti Smith uses to cope with it. I have mixed feelings about Ms Smith. She is a very creative and talented individual, to be sure, but I find her to be what I can only describe as ‘attractively repulsive’. I don’t even know what I really mean by that.
Be that as it may, I did like the little story she uses to get to sleep. I am willing to give it a go …..
“I imagine myself a sailor in the time of the great whaling ships on a lengthy voyage. We are in the center of a violent storm and the captain’s inexperienced son catches his foot in a length of rope and is pulled overboard. Unflinching, the sailor leaps into the storm-tossed seas after him. The men throw down massive lengths of rope and the lad is brought to deck in the arms of the sailor and carried below.
The sailor is summoned to the quarterdeck and led to the captain’s inner sanctum. Wet and shivering, he eyes his surroundings with wonder. The captain, in a rare show of emotion, embraces him. You saved my son’s life, he says. Tell me how I can best serve you. The sailor, embarrassed, asks for a full measure of rum for each of the men. Done, says the captain, but what of you? After some hesitation the sailor answers, I have slept on galley floors, bunks and hammocks since a lad, it has been a long time since I have slept in a proper bed.
The captain, moved by the sailor’s humility, offers his own bed, then retires to the room of his son. The sailor stands before the captain’s empty bed. It has down pillows and a light coverlet. There is a massive leather trunk at its foot. He crosses himself, blows out the candles and succumbs to a rare and wholly enveloping sleep.”
This is the game I sometimes play when sleep is elusive, one that evolved from reading Melville, that takes me from the mat on the bathroom floor to my own bed, affording grateful slumber.”
I doubt that it will help. But it will be something to think about whilst I’m not sleeping