gatineau morning.

gatineau morning.
photo by douglas mcarthur.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

waiting to exhale.

waiting to exhale.

since returning from india, i haven't been sleeping so well at night. i don't mean since i returned from my most recent trip to india a week ago. i mean since returning in 1998. actually, i hardly remember ever sleeping well at night. i sometimes sleep well in the evenings and/or early mornings. i never know what to say when someone asks if i feel jet-lagged. i feel as though i've been jet-lagged for years.
however, there's always one thing beautiful waiting to do, always available and that always fills me with a sense of wonder. there's one simple thing i can do when i can't sleep, in a waiting room even or on a long flight, that i love and that gives so much more to me than sleep.

the fact is, sleeping at night tires me out. it's often fitful, like i'm losing an argument with myself. it just seems like the whole collective consciousness at that time is heavy. does that make sense? i may have a nightmarish nightmare in the middle of the night. i feel like a vice-grip has gripped my head in the middle of the night. i wake up disoriented, unable to orient, thinking i'm somewhere other than where i am, or not. my teeth grind, my stomachs churn. suffice it to say it's not your perfect 'sleep-country' experience. i've just learned to roll onto my bed, or sofa, or lazy-boy in the evening for a snooze, if possible, wake up around midnight, spend most of the night awake, then go belly-up again for a while in the morning.

of course that begs the question: what do i do at night(?) well, you're reading one thing i do at night. otherwise, i sometimes go for walks. years ago, in india, i could skip along the mountain paths without even a flash-light on a moon-less night. i knew those hills that well. now, of course, there are stone walls and iron fences everywhere, unless one climbs up higher and higher. the road was totally peaceful in those days and at least quieter than usual now at that time, although no longer very pretty. but, there's one simple thing better than that.

in wakefield, when i lived in the village itself, i simply walked around the block once or twice. i recall the first time the police stopped to check me out. they asked the usual questions: where do i live, why am i out at that hour, how do i feel about police harassment, stuff like that. they seemed awfully suspicious, looked at me so strangely as i smiled most cordially into the open window of their cruiser. only afterward did i realize i had forgotten to put my teeth in, a plate that fills an important gap where two bottom tusks used to proudly stand. my hair was disheveled. i wore indian pyjamas. i guess i did look a bit suspicious at 2:30 a.m., maybe even a bit scary. still, there's one thing better than wandering.

i was once positively bowled over by a couple of bucks right on legion road in the dead of night. i used to come across raccoons, had to watch out for skunks. strangely, where i live now, out near lac gauvreau, i never see so much as a shrew on my nocturnal wanderings. but it sure is beautiful, on a clear, bright night when the moon is high up throwing its light onto a shimmering lake. or on a clear dark night when the stars fill your eyes and make it hard to turn away. yet, there's something even better than that.

there's one beautiful thing waiting for you to do, perpetually available, that will fill you with a sense of wonder. there's always that one thing waiting for you to do when you can't do anything else. when you can't sleep, languishing in a waiting room or on a long flight, there's one simple thing you'll learn to love and that will give so much more than sleep.

in this day of strict scheduling, people worry about not getting enough sleep. when i was working in ottawa, i'd leave wakefield at about 7:00 and not stop until back home twelve hours later. i recall one winter's day being so tired during a lunch-break that i lay down on a bench in the nearby clarica building. the next i remember i was being shaken by a security guard. he demanded that i get up, that i wasn't allowed to lie down, that it didn't look good. i was indignant. "do i look like a miscreant?," i barked. "i'm wearing a tie and jacket. do i even seem like a homeless person to you?" he insisted that it didn't matter and that i had to get up. so i got up, put my pants back on and left the building in a huff. ok, of course i'm kidding about the pants. but, there was something better than that.

no matter where you're at in your life, you're gonna need a little help, something to do when all else fails, something to be there for you. you're gonna need something to help when you have an important meeting in the morning and unable to sleep. much more to the point, you're gonna need something miraculous to hold onto when your plane is going down or facing open-heart surgery. you're simply gonna need to breathe. it's time to take a breath.

you can always grab hold of one exhalation, one inhalation, a breath or two or three. it's not a breathing exercise. tuning into your breath just as it is, going in and out the nostrils, on its own, can become the very best thing to do. it's always there, always gonna be there, pure, free and forever. your breath gives energy, it's the very life. it stands to reason that the closer you become with your breath the more energy and life you will gain. the connection can grow. as you lose yourself within that most valuable of things to do, something so beautiful, powerful, life-sustaining will be found, by simply watching the breath. who'd a thought(?)  

1 comment :

  1. Funny how things arrive with perfect timing; I have had a string of bad nights recently...

    Will you be starting up the Wednesday evening meditations again?