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Awake at the wheel

For much of my life, if doctors had analyzed my brain waves, I’m pretty sure they would have determined I was asleep. My body may have been going through the motions of being awake, but for an embarrassingly long number of years, my brain was slumbering.

I snoozed my way through jobs, vacations, opportunities, even love affairs. Wandering around in a somnambulistic daze, just letting life happen and just reacting, rarely acting.

And while I don’t regret my life, I do regret the minimalist approach I had to living it.

Then, one day, after a calamitous event – an event that knocked me so hard on my ass I thought I’d never be able to get back up again – I woke up.

And once I woke up, it took me a while, but I finally got back on my feet. And once I was standing, I vowed I’d never get knocked down again. For that, I had to stay awake.

Because one thing I’d learned was that when you’re sleep-walking through life, even the smallest of hits, the lightest of blows, will knock you down for the count. And the only way to withstand the hits and blows is to be alert and standing straight. They won’t stop coming, but they won’t knock you over anymore like they used to when you were doing the narcoleptic shuffle.

When you’re asleep, the little and big blows all seem to pack the same hurricane-level punch: the boss who calls you an f’n idiot because she missed her flight; the car that breaks down the morning of a big interview; the roof that chews through the last of your savings; the man you thought loved you enough to forgive your faults, but he didn’t; the best friend you thought would never destroy your world by sleeping with the love of your life, but she did.

When you’re asleep, everything’s a nightmare — because you’re asleep, after all, and everything seems hysteria-worthy in the dark and dead of night.

Sure, in between the drama – some good moments, for sure. The sex that becomes making love. Passing a nuit-blanche with someone you can barely keep your hands off, listening to every song Sinatra ever sung. Watching the snow – through a window nine stories up — fall over the city of Boston. The full moon sneaking through your window. Those moments of laughing so hard you really do get a stomachache. The moment you realize the love you feel is so big, so beyond any measure, that all you can do is say, over and over, I love you. I love you. I love you.

Gorgeous moments of sensual delirium that soothe the body blows you’ve taken along the way. You definitely want to be wide awake for that kind of fabulosity.

Yet, those moments are sometimes few and far between; go too long without them, and the hits begin to dominate. The memory of life’s softer, sexier moments fade and the come-hither dream world beckons.

With all that’s going on in the world right now – the wars, the weekly listing of men and women who are dying, the gasping economy, the ugly politics. The loneliness of hyper-busy, distracted lives. It’s all making me kind of sleepy again.

It’d be so much easier to doze-coast through the chaos, like I used to do. And, I’m so tired. Aren’t we all? Can’t we just set the alarm to wake us up when it’s happy-times-are-here-again-o’clock?

Sounds dreamy, but honestly, I wouldn’t go back to my shut-eye ways again. I like being awake at the wheel, even when I’m bone-tired of driving.

But, because life has a huge sense of humor – even when I don’t – now that I’ve decided to stay fiercely awake on an emotional and intellectual level for the rest of my life, she’s hitting me with a very real and often dispiriting bout of physical insomnia that literally keeps me awake when I should be asleep.

Well, a little bit of irony never hurt anyone.

Posted on October 12th, 2008Comments RSS Feed
3 Responses to Awake at the wheel
  1. One of your better recent columns. Keep ’em coming. Sleep well.

  2. Well written.

    I suspect that most Liberals are just sleep-walking through reality. They aspire for the best without regard to the facts and try to simply brush them away as in a lucid dream. And those that go to the extreme are no longer in a dream state as much as in a permanent hyper-awake elitist manic state that approaches anarchist stature. They are the ones that we should really be concerned the most about (Franks, Obama, Pelosi, Reid, etc.(You may notice that the names are in alphabetical order since I have CDO, which is the same as OCD only in alphabetical order)).

    Have a lovely subtropical day.

  3. Yo Capt………Still voting for the lesser of two evils?????Great column MC!


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