Essays

The vicissitudes of thoughts in the night

I really shouldn’t drink before I go to bed.

Okay, that is too grand a statement. Rather, a glass doesn’t hurt right before bed or so, but a sustained engagement for a few hours before is as bad as a weekend blackout binge habit, too.

But, the main reason I shouldn’t is that my sleep isn’t deep enough to quiet the thoughts that most of us don’t want to, in fact most likely cannot deal with, during the day.

The disquieting thoughts and questions:

  1. Is all of this worth it?
  2. Am I living the life I want to live?
  3. How many years do my parents have left?
  4. How many years do I have left?
  5. Is this love or lying or something in between?
  6. Am I enough? Is this enough?
  7. Should I have done [x] instead of [y] and would my life have turned out differently (read: better)?

And so on and on and around it goes. During the day there is often too much living that is happening to wrestle with these thoughts — and indeed, it is wrestling because there are never any answers to be found, just a sweaty, never ending match, that only stops when you get too tired for it or the sun rises.

During the day, you have things to do, people to see, kids to parent, work to work at, television to be alternately entertained and numbed by, food to eat, and drink to guzzle… No time for the wrestle with existential longings; no time to question everything and find the truth in nothing.

To dwell in this state is not ideal, but to visit this place, I find necessary. Why? Because you’ve got to know what lays underneath. This is the place where you face your fears. This is the place where you can discover why you splashed that drink in someone’s face and why you ignored that phone call from an unsuspecting friend and why you did [x] and not [y].

This is the place where, if you’re portraying a perfect life during the day, you face the fact that it is not all perfect underneath. It is also the place where, if things are feeling particularly hard and wrong and not good, not good at all, that you may discover the gremlin that’s been feeding on you (and you may slay that tiny Grendel).

No, I really shouldn’t drink before I go to bed, but I can’t complain about the resultant space and time to think on the things I’d rather not, or simply can’t, at other times. I don’t recommend this path towards deep thought and contemplation of the real things of life, but I do recommend the destination.

Where and when else can you say to yourself without shame or melodrama: “I am, and this is, enough”?

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