waking up

Toward the end of August, I became very tired.

As September tiptoed in, I began to say to friends, “I need a vacation.  A good, solid week to unplug and refill.”

Then, somewhere in the middle of speaking and all without warning, I fell asleep.

This was not the kind of sleep that spans hours, but rather days and weeks.  In fact, it lasted more than a month, this sleep.

Oh, I did not remain tucked in bed or snoozing away under some tree like a modern day Rip Van Winkle.  I walked.  I talked.  I showered and ate and drove.  But I assure you, I was very much asleep all the while.

In this somnambulistic juxtaposition between the nether and reality, I heard my own voice of advice.  I listened as best I could.  And so I smiled dreamily at people and the words that came out of me like floating marshmallows were warm and uplifting.  Or at least they had that kind of feeling, as best I recall.  I even braved a visit to the ocean in the middle of a raging rain storm with an old-new friend.  And this nearly roused me from my slumber.

But not quite.

The stars remained above me.  I saw them.  But I could not manage to look directly at them.  They seemed to be evading my direct gaze on purpose.  Or maybe I’d just forgotten how to look the right way.

Haddock (what a funny word – “HAD-dock”) smelled like cornflakes.  And cornflakes sounded loud.  Heavy.  Too loud, falling in the bowl.

Once, while I slept, I almost thought of something important.  Maybe a song.  But then it flitted away and was replaced with another thought that I’d thought a hundred times and yet which still made no sense at all.

I laughed.  I felt my muscles move.  And it felt strange, like looking at your friend in the dark after staying up much too late during a sleepover when you were a kid.  I heard the laugh and it sounded like someone I used to know.  But I couldn’t tell where the laugh came from, other than my mouth.

A few days ago, it rained again.  I felt it.  I felt the raindrops.  And it smelled right.  And the cotton unpacked itself from my ears and unraveled from my brain and fell down.

And I woke up.

Soon after, a part of me rose up and felt it should wag a finger at me for having let myself sleep so long.  The nerve!  And yet I did not allow that voice to have the floor.  I told it that I could handle me just fine.

Here is the conclusion I have reached.  Sometimes, we just need to sleep, even while we continue to walk.  Realizing our need for rest, our body and soul take it upon themselves to hop a plane and write us postcards: “Wish You Were Here!”

When they finally do return, they bring back souvenirs and things to wear that smell like someplace else.  And we feel like we can carry on a while longer on their stories that we don’t quite understand, but that we feel from having looked at the pictures.

So I slept, because that is what I needed.

Then I woke up when it was time.

And there is no shame in it.

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