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What I Do When I Can't Sleep

Updated: Apr 29, 2021

Prayer is not my thing. No way I’m whining about “anxiety” when there are people out there living without their legs, or watching their house burn down, or caught between rape camps on one side and children in cages on the other. Not whining about my sorry ass.

But the God I don’t believe in must have heard me anyway. Someone must have heard me for this gift to be in my lap.

This gift of what to do when I feel this way at night. This gift of what to do when I can’t sleep.

As I smush the pillow under my neck,

I give this ending day all my thoughts. I give them away to this ending day.

The random crazy ones.

The intellectual ones where I try to fit an ocean-sized whale of life into my tiny little goldfish mind. The bookkeeping problems. The to-do lists for tomorrow. The dystopian, apocalyptic fantasies. I give them all away to this finally ending day.

As I arrange my legs the way I like them,

rubbing my feet against each other, then

becoming still, I give this darkening day

all my deeds. All of them. The meditation. The dishes I did and didn’t do. The emails I wrote. The ones I forwarded. The ones I looked for and couldn’t find.

I give this darkening day all my calls to tech support. The amazon packages returned. The dog walks. The swept floor, the dust I sighed at, but left on the shelves in favor of Netflix.

I give all my deeds away to this darkening day.

As I turn over onto one side to see if that will feel better,

I give to this large, lumbering day all my feelings.

The guilt that poked me after a gossipy conversation, The tenderness of my little kisses left to rest on Elena’s neck.

The fear I feel when something goes wrong and I’m sure it’s my fault and I don’t want anyone to know. I give this day the IV of curiosity, anger, and forgiveness fluids that I’ve made for my eldest, who’s been in a communications coma since way before Christmas. No return texts or calls. I give this day my anger at that, my resentment, my apathy too. I give this day the overwhelm over everything that still needs to be done but today is over now. I give all my feelings away to this large and lumbering day.

As I turn this way and that, like a dog

making circles in the grass before settling,

I put all today's events, every weight, shape and size,

into a little paper boat and set it adrift on the rich muddy river of this day flowing into night.

I give them away. I give them away. These gifts of all the ways I showed up in the world today.

That giant whale will eat them while I sleep.


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