Thursday, December 29, 2011

the cheetahs of sleep

Sleep is a great equalizer. It's unbounded and bounding energies are the same for young and old. Fleet of foot and knowing as an owl, young and old find freedom in the dreams that come as sleep's companion.

But waking up is an entirely different matter. The young awake without burden. It may be something the gripe about -- another work day! another set of responsibilities! -- but the easy energies flow through the blood.

Old people, who knew the same unbounded and bounding energies in sleep, wake up differently. First it is time to put on the pain suit. A 92-year-old woman who was lecturing a senior-citizen audience once said, approximately, "If, after the age of 65, you wake up in the morning without any aches and pains, you will know you are dead." So, first things first -- first you put on the pain suit. Then, perhaps simultaneously, there is the recognition that being awake means being tired. The unbounded and bounding energies of sleep -- the cheetah swiftness that young and old share in sleep -- is not to be.

None of this is anything worth whining about. It's just a fact and whining requires an energy that is both ill-directed and pointless. Old people may long for their cheetahs of sleep -- and may grow crabby when they can't find and harness them -- but at this stage, the cheetahs are sleeping. The mindless optimisms of younger people -- "c'mon ... exercise is good" or "things'll get better" -- ring false and, more, annoying. The pain suit and the fatigue have lessons of their own: Blue sky is blue. Take your cheerful, nourishing bullshit elsewhere ... I'm too old for that sort of self-serving arrogance.

The pain suit and fatigue ... is it any wonder that someone would seek out the cheetahs of sleep -- a long and boundless sleep?

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