You know that moment, when you close your eyes at night and the job comes flooding in? When all you can think about is where you’re at and where the company is going and what so and so said to you and what you said, or should’ve said back? Instead of congratulating yourself on the great squeeze lying beside you, or the kids in the next room, or the way you figured out how to prepare couscous so it was pretty good, or any of the stuff that is really worthy about how we spend each and every day.
Sometimes it is preparation, getting ready for tomorrow: what is my task? What are my tools? What are my constraints? What’s gonna hurt? Those nights aren’t so bad, if you know your job those questions are usually ones you’ve already thought about and it is just a mental review. Foreboding can suck but resolve can get past it, mostly. Even the nights when it is a matter of honestly assessing how the day just past was truly fucked up that too usually comes to a conclusion (even when it takes a while to get to the point when we can say we fucked up).
The worst nights are when the past is replayed so it feels like real time. And it usually isn’t the little shit that we replay, no it is those strange moments of where we consider the role chosen and chose to misrepresent ourselves in order to appear fit for the task. How we got here and why we worked so hard to make it.
The misrepresentation isn’t that we aren’t fit for the task, completely not. What plays out in the witching hours is the frenzied fatigue of self interrogation: what did I say that for? I can’t believe he said that; what was it really about. Why say that? Why did I agree to that; oh god I can’t remember, did I take notes? Is this really what’s needed? Can’t we get on with it? Just think is it about you? That’s not what I remember? Should I take it upstairs? Did that hurt me? Does he still trust me? Does she really hate me that much? Am I wrong, have I been wrong all along? What about the woman from personnel? Am I OK here?
It goes nowhere. Gets no result. There are no answers.
I’ve struggled with all three options for failing to sleep in these particular ways. No fun, my sleep, no fun. But lately I’ve gone back to what I used to do: I imagine somewhere else.
I choose what to think about as I close my eyes. Rome; revolutionary Cuba; the Silk Road; Annapurna; the Trafalgar; McMurdo Sound; Patagonia; Namibia; Jerusalem; Death Valley. It doesn’t matter in the slightest where or when I imagine. As long as I can see a land and tell myself a story about what I imagine I will fall (usually before I notice) asleep.
And by that time it is the only result that counts.