Everybody’s been at me all night but no, not a chance. It’s almost a resolution with me now, that I’ll never make another resolution. How do I know what I should do for the rest of the year? How do I know what I should do tomorrow? How likely is it I’m wiser about myself right now, after Christ knows how many glasses of Avi’s u-brew bubbly, than I’ll be at, say, noon on June 27th? All the future me’s, shouldn’t I trust them to do the right thing? I switched to water when we got home from the party a few hours ago. Doesn’t this demonstrate my deep-seated something-or-other?
Plus I made a resolution last year and it didn’t work out well. Shareen had been begging me to get more sleep, especially since Jilly had her skating accident and got hooked on painkillers and started having sex with boys on the senior football team in exchange for theirs. Even in more serene times I’d been only so-so in bed (Shareen’s little joke). I kept finding yellow-highlighted articles on my desk about how not sleeping upped my chances of a car accident or a heart attack or a stroke. Then we were at Wren and Avi’s place for our usual New Year’s Eve thing and I thought to myself, just go ahead and do something crazily positive and affirmative for once. Be a different person for a second and you’ll be a different person forever, or at least for a day. So I blurted out that I was going to get more sleep, and Shareen, who really does worry (her resolution was to call her mum and dad every week, even though they’re separated so it means two calls, both of them long and consumed with ancient grievances) cried a little right there in front of our friends and kissed and hugged me.
The catch with resolving to do something is that then it’s on your mind. I started to think about sleep and why I wasn’t good at it. I started to think about how my insomnia was going to kill me, and that inclined me to see the connection between the two, insomnia and death. When you’re asleep you’re half dead, it occurred to me, or maybe even more than that because you basically don’t exist. If you die while you’re asleep you’ll never know it, which sort of means you’re dead already. Going to sleep is like getting an anaesthetic before surgery. Maybe it’s minor surgery, maybe you can get away with calling it a procedure, but even as you count backwards you know you don’t know. In a few seconds you’ll be gone and you may or may not come back. What amazed me was that I’d ever let myself drift off at all.
So for a while there, yeah, the resolution backfired. I was afraid to fall asleep and I was afraid not to. Some nights I reasoned it out, that being afraid to sleep was mostly imagination or metaphor or what have you, whereas staying awake might literally kill me. But sleep is one of those things where once you want it you can’t necessarily have it, in fact it’s the other way around. You can’t put yourself to sleep. You have to let yourself be taken, a thing at which I suck.
It’s kind of sad, then, that I did eventually start to sleep again. Am I that weak, that fickle? Am I not capable of sustaining even so intense a terror? The thing was, we were starting to get Jilly back on track—the pain was mostly gone, and the painkillers too—and just in general there seemed to be an element of grace returning to our lives. By summertime I was sleeping better than I had in ages. Not until earlier this evening, as I sipped bad bubbly at Wren and Avi’s place again and marvelled at everybody’s fresh resolutions—or I guess I should say last evening, since Jilly and Shareen have both been asleep for hours, and day’s getting ready to break—did the whole thing come back to me.
Photo by Flickr user Yi Wang