Monday, September 03, 2007

A Sleepless Night

I couldn't sleep very well last night. It was hot. The sleeping pill was mild. I had read longer than usual...I had to finish the book. Perhaps that's it. I will blame my insomnia on "The Old Man of the Sea". Hemingway's greatness stirred my soul, like a sudden, unexpected storm stirring vast ocean depths.

The story of the Old Man's days at sea catching the great fish, only to have stolen by sharks as he brought it home had moved me even more than it had the first time I had read it as a college student.

Perhaps that is why, after reading such a story, the waves of my last night's nighttime thoughts were all dark. They were memories of incompleteness; tasks left unfinished, possibilities left unfulfilled, and relationships aborted. There were no happy thoughts, it seems: just semi-conscious memories contained no successes, no endless arrays of life's neural openings, neurons of life's stimuli swimming unattached to any synaptic fulfillment.

Whenever I spend a night like that, sheet tossing and pillow re-shaping--and I do many times even without having read "The Old Man and the Sea"--it is always the same: a time of regrets, never of self-congratulations. My semi-conscious thoughts are like ghosts, non-corporeal, an array of ephemeral desires that have never experienced birth, efforts that have never reached culmination, hopes that have never attained realization, still-born possibilities that died in the throes of non-actualization.

The failures are my fault (or so my half-dreams inform me): had I tried harder, better, wiser, with more cleverness and energy...and less fear...I would have written the resume of my life in bolder tones, in font of gold and gossamer, with hoorays and hosannas following the mere mention of my name.

However, and this is not uncommon after such a sleepless night, I woke up at eight AM, eager and optimistic for the day to unfold. I felt rested. I had obviously exhausted my regrets in endless circling of 'might-have-been'. The sharks may have stolen yesterday's catch, but "The Old Man of the Sea" and I went eagerly fishing the next day.


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