Monday, September 10, 2007

Sleep Fishing

I used to think insomnia would be an interesting thing to experience. Books make it sound that way. Insomniacs are those intense weirdos who stare knowingly at every detail, muttering, scribbling elaborate semi-coherent proofs on old receipts. Its not that fun. Lying awake for hours trying to shut down the pictures in your brain, the endless memory trails, is one of the most frustrating things you can imagine. It happens to me a lot lately. I wake up after 3 hours of sleep and 4 hours of trying angry at the world.

Of course the first person I see at work is Stewick a 38 year-old trainwreck/standup-comedian who is a believer in positive psychology right now. We are assigned to escort the museum bathroom cleaners for the night – not the most fun job. Stewick immediately demands that I raise my hands with him and petition the universe for a change of assignment. His prayer went like this: “Dear Universe, Please make the Paris Maintenance guys not show up so Byler and I can get sweet posts.” I told him the Universe was set against us because I had already seen one of the maintenance guys. He scoffed “You have to believe.” I didn’t believe, I liked being grumpy, and my negativity caused us to spend outside various toilets.

But really it was ok. I drank a lot of coffee, gulped a Tylenol 4, and read Chinese history and as much as I grated against Stewick’s blind positive psychological bologna, it was true: I have a horrible sleep schedule, stomach ulcers, loud neighbors, and the occasional tyranny of toilet guarding; but otherwise my life is perfect. Like Zhuangzi wrote 2300 years ago: “My back sticks up like a hunchback and my vital organs are on top of me. My chin is hidden in my navel, my shoulders are up above my head and my pigtail points at the sky.” Yet despite these afflictions he lived his life with joy. And sagely wondered what would happen next. Perhaps his left arm would turn into a rooster. If so, he would “herald the dawn.” Or maybe his buttocks would turn into the wheels of a cart, “then, with my spirit for a horse I’ll climb up and go for a ride.” Why not? Living life properly is like “a cook boiling a small fish.” I don’t know what that means but it sounds like fun.


Blogger Bubbsyte said...

Stomach ulcers!???? OK..... when are you leaving NYC?

11:42 PM  
Anonymous Dwight G. said...

I think a cook boiling a small fish is actually descriptive of a boring, predictable life. Much better to live life "improperly." That's like a big fish jumping out of the pot and knocking the cook over.

7:42 PM  
Blogger darren-jenn said...

i think laozi who wrote the fish thing was thinking about how to carefully tend to one's self in relation to the world. to only intervene when absolutly necessary and otherwise accept what comes by seeing the ultimate reality behind the surface madness. but who knows daoism is only corrupted by words, right?

we'll be in the city for at least another 15 months. who's counting?


6:24 AM  

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