Monday, August 30, 2004

unconsciousness is elusive

Unfortunately I can not sleep. I have never been very good at going to sleep. I am amazing at sleeping once I have achieved unconsciosness, but getting started with it is damn near impossible until I am completely exhausted.

I am currently reading _the curious incident of the dog in the night_ by Mark Haddon, the main character/narrator of which is an autistic adolescent. Being told through the dry observation and bafflement of this kid's mind, we are let into a world view which craves order and has trouble with too much information coming in at once. He does an amazing job at keeping the information in order in his head, he just is extremely uncomfortable having to process too much all at once. Venturing into a new place sends his mind reeling with all the novel details of the encounter. He frequently resorts to 'moaning' to drown things out, or doing math problems in his head to refocus his mind. The order and rules of it feel safe and secure.

I have been trying to figure out what about his outlook feels so familiar to me. I certainly don't mind new or strange places or people, and don't feel overwhelmed by noises from multiple sources. And laying here three hours into trying to sleep, it struck me that I approach things similarly but from the other side: I am extremely uncomfortable without novelty and distraction.

I do not sleep well in quite places. In fact, the easiest way for me to fall asleep has always been to plant myself in front of a tv. Or to ride in a car. I frequently nod off during my daily commute on the subway (my ride is about an hour each way) but here at night in the peace of my room, after a day of marching the city's streets in protest, after leaving a bar because I was having trouble staying awake, no rest will come. His flood is from external stimuli; mine is internal.

A flood of stimuli lets my focus bounce around and my mind relax.

But I am tired, and as much as my mind refuses to shut down, it also is beginning to refuse to concentrate on the subject at hand so I will leave this until another time. Of course, as soon as I turn off the computer and light, and lay back in the darkness to enjoy the quiet, my mind will start racing and I will begin wondering again. About everything.

Awareness is sleepy.

No comments: