Stream of SleepBy Joe Caplin
It’s so hard to live in the moment. We try to in these ‘reflecting on’ articles, and explore the fundamentals of mental fitness, in the most immediate way we can.
It’s happening again.
I’m in bed, and I can’t sleep.
I’m in bed and the sheets are pulled up past my neck and are tickling my lower lip and the base of my nose every time I breathe out, and every time I breathe in I -
Pause for breath.
Except I’m not in bed.
I’m not beneath the sheets, with the left of my two feet peeking out to feel the coolness of the air. Instead I’m in my head; only half aware of the sensations I describe as I think instead about the act of describing them. I am not there because I am here thinking how to explain how being there felt, to you.
I’m not in the bed blocking out the sound of the traffic from the street outside; hearing each car arrive and depart, the sound louder and longer than normal - it must have rained in the evening, funny I didn’t notice - but no. I am not in the bed, not even there with my eyes twitching from side to side trying to decide whether to follow one train of thought to see if it leads to the end, or instead attempt the impossible again and block them all out with the hum of ‘sleep, sleep, sleep.’
No, I’m not there. I’m in my fingertips; in the sticky sleep sweat between them and the keys, and me - I’m somewhere in between. I’m stuck between the thought of the description and the action of typing. Between the lie that I’m creating, this fantasy of a present moment in which I try to sleep, and the reality of the typing and thinking and - which?
It was easier to notice the moment when the backlight of the laptop burned my eyes. Now I can touch type, so I turn it off. It’s an interesting feeling. “Dictated but not read” I think is the phrase. Typing without reading. The keyboard itself is lit, isn’t technology great, but you don’t need it. No. Your eyes are closed and you, me, whoever, we; we’re trying to find the moment of present. The actual instant. Where it exists. Even in the self aware search of the insomniac it is elusive, slipping through the momentary gaps in my attention like so many unpaid parking tickets.
It is a secret. It exists only until it is shared; the present moment exists until the moment before your awareness of it. This meditative exercise of trying to catch it is in vain. I recommend it though. Writing without reading, and typing without thinking. On and on.
Turn on the screen, look at what I’ve done.