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

15 thoughts on “Insomnia

  1. Ohh, sorry you’re sleepless! I suffered from sleep issues for much of my life, but they’re finally medicated! I’m grateful every day (and every night) for pills! I wish you could find a solution as well!


      1. Yeah, probably, but I feel sad that you can’t fix it, ’cause it’s horrible, night after night! Isn’t there anything you can do? Melatonin? Green tea? Meds? NyQuil? If you’re hesitant to take meds, let me point out that Ambien will improve your writing… in hilarious ways.


      2. I’ve tried quite a bit of stuff … nothing seems to work. Apparently I suffer from ‘hyper-vigilance’ which keeps me constantly on the alert. Though just what exactly I am on the alert for remains unclear …

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Interesting! So, you’re like a guard dog? Sounds like anxiety. I wish there were a solution! 🙂 Ohh! (Just thought of something.) Maybe you should GET a guard dog! Then you could relax and let the doggie be vigilant!


      4. We have a Labrador here. The last in a long line of Labradors, in fact. She is probably the worst guard dog on the planet. She has literally never barked. Not once in her life. And it’s been a long life. As well as being old she is stone deaf. You can shout at her from point blank range (as I do, from time to time) and she registers nothing. There are rabbits, ducks and kangaroos everywhere. It has never occurred to her to chase one.
        Vigilance is not her thing.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve finally started sleeping from about 2 to 5. I think adjusting to my neighbors schedules is my only choice. At least it’s some rest. The above story wouldn’t help me at all. Good luck to you.


  3. Insomnia is awful! Being a chronic insomniac, I forget that other people actually sleep more than 3 or 4 hours. Without medication I wouldn’t even get that.
    That story was lovely but I dont see how it would help anyone sleep.


  4. insomnia is no fun. been there, moved the bed, learned to shut down the hamster wheel up there, and most of the time I go out nicely. But it does creep in, and sometimes the best thing to do is get up and read in your favorite comfy chair. Or hit the recliner, if you have one. When I was sick last year I spent many nights in the recliner next to the woodstove, and I could sleep like anybody’s business. No snoring, no elbow in the ribs, just me and the cat. =)


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