Insomnia

Sometimes the lake doesn’t glide serenely forward, but boils, roils, undulates restlessly, and the waves are not soothing, not sonnets, but tangled, sweaty sheets, surging grotesquely like the chattering thoughts of an insomniac, rising without purpose. These waves don’t come in directions, or in even succession, they break tumultuously, biting and gnawing cannibalistically like rats racing selfishly toward the shore, and they express like those wakeful thoughts on sleepless nights, as if you were sleeping on a bed of snakes, or that those snakes were in your skull trying to emerge from your eyes, but accomplishing nothing but to helplessly writhe in contempt. On those nights you don’t stare across the lake in longing at the hanging moon and wish that she would return to you, but you stare at the hateful lake and wish that you could retch it from your stomach, that she would leave you, no longer haunt you, stop calling your name.

 

I look inward and see the empty depth of my body, and it is pitch black; not an altar but a tomb.

 

-William Arthur Grant

I’ve had difficulty sleeping for several nights. My typical habit, lately, has been to swim from six till dusk, and when I settle in bed, my body still seems to bob afloat the waves like a cork. I turn and turn the lamp on and off repeatedly, and my grandfather’s book, by my bed, brings me nothing good in the way of sleep or solace. I’ve also been reading Dennett’s Consciousness Explained, and the two texts intermingle like bad drink and I doze with dreams of abandoned thoughts like cascading surf. My brain seems to be a sort of generator of half baked aquatic fantasies. These weird poetic prophecies of my grandfather don’t help anything much.

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