A couple of months ago, when RW and I were about to fall asleep some moonlit night, after a long, hot July day, I mumbled out to him my theories on sleep and why it’s necessary for the soul. I often drowsily pontificate on existential topics or supernatural theories right before I fall asleep at night and he’s quite thoughtful and kind to lay there and listen to me instead of refute all of the crazy things I’m saying which is one of the greatest things about Robert — he might not always say as much as I say but he’s always thinking about one million rich things and that’s why his eyes are so beautiful and bright.
On that particular night, I was telling him all about why I think our souls need sleep. I think we are born soft and the older we get, the harder we get. Think of work hardened metal that is beat up and bashed and hardened over time — crystal lattice winding down tighter and tighter until the metal is rigid and brittle and the slightest attempt to bend it results in shattering it. I think humans get this way, mostly from getting slapped around by other humans, tragically, and from the general wear and tear of life. I think the softness of our souls keeps us supple in body, mind and spirit. I think we maintain soul softness by sleeping. It’s the part of a 24-hour day when we get to unplug, return to a sort of infancy in our feather lined cradles, shut our eyes and cascade, cell by cell, into a canyon of dreams and eye fluttering. It’s a sort of miracle when you stop to think about it. So many people are too stressed to sleep these days, too busy to sleep, or too imbalanced to sleep and they walk around our fair Earth hardened and unhappy. I know how I feel after a horrid sleep or lack of sleep — edgy, cranky, short tempered, selfish — I find myself running about life, unfocused, pinging off of the people and things around me. Chaotic. Disordered. Hard of soul. When I have slept well, it’s just the opposite. I am slower to speak, kinder, patient, unflappable. Generally nice in most ways. When I wake up in the morning after a wonderful sleep I feel soft and wholly beautiful. I’m a clean slate. My eyes are warm. My heart is home to bird thrums and joyful expectation.
We plug our phones into electrical sockets to recharge them. To soften and re-energize our souls, we lay our bodies in our beds. Perhaps the soul is the battery of being?
Last night was my second sleep at the little cabin in the woods. I was exhausted and in need of sabbath. I had a truly wretched day in the studio. I ruined a couple of things I was working on and nearly bashed my kneecap off my leg when I slipped while stepping up into the Airstream — hurt like the dickens. In hindsight, I should not have worked yesterday and should have taken the day off. I was worm-eaten by fatigue and operating on a mere fraction of my regular verve. Life has been too fast lately. Too fast and overfull. I put myself to bed early last night and slept deeply until the dogs woke me this morning. Once awake, I stayed in bed with a book for another couple of hours, listening to the pups out in the woods, digging and rooting around after musty scents under the douglas firs. The chipmunks were in the trees clashing their castanets together in the sunrise and day glimmer. I lifted from bed, stood on the upper deck for a while, feeling tall as a tree, breeze wrangling. I made a decanter of coffee and, as is my usual habit, I went out to walk in the pungent duff and light of the forest morning, feeling malleable and kind. Assured of the goodness of life with each breath I took in and out. Watching bird zoom and grass riffle. Generally, such a marvelous way to begin the day.
There are so many new and wonderful sounds to learn, living in this tall forest. A woolly little hawk flew past my face a few days ago, with the remains of a rabbit in its talons. Yesterday morning, while driving into town, a ruffed grouse ran ahead of the truck for the better part of a minute before stepping off the side of my ingrown driveway to giving me an enticing and majestic feather display (though he didn’t drum for me), I let him go on and on about his immaculate attributes it until I finally found the courage to tell him that I am happily married and he’d have to find another bird to love. (Wrong season, anyway. Poor thing.)
On this fine day, I will eventually have to go down the mountain to make an appearance at the post office before I meet up with a friend for a horseback riding date after which a wonderful family of friends hopes to feed me steak and potatoes for dinner because apparently, I’m looking too thin. Can you imagine? I think that by the time tomorrow morning spins into being, I’ll be feeling clear of my previously atrocious studio day and ready to work again.
The dogs just came rollicking and galloping into the cabin like schooners at play in a stiff wind. It’s chaos, toe claws and pink tongues mopping the cabin floor. They smell of tree sap, merry tributaries, the fringed edges of summer, kestrel wings, ladybug snouts, bear claws. Life is overwhelmingly delectable.