GUEST COMMENTARY: Thoughts that go bump in the nightI awoke with a start in the middle of the night recently. When I surfaced from my troubled half-sleep, I realized I was thinking about a story I had written the previous day.
By: Sam Cook, Outdoors writer, Duluth News Tribune, Lake County News Chronicle
I awoke with a start in the middle of the night recently. When I surfaced from my troubled half-sleep, I realized I was thinking about a story I had written the previous day.
This happens to journalists more often than you might think. We are not the callous, uncaring hacks we’re sometimes made out to be.
I lay in bed for some time, thinking about the story, editing it one more time in my mind. Was it accurate? Yes. I felt sure. Was it fair? Yes, I thought it was fair. Had I confirmed all my facts? Yes, I felt confident.
But, still. My subconscious had dredged me out of a good sleep to revisit all of this one more time. Now, here I was at 1:50 a.m., all wired up and nowhere to go.
Do music teachers lie awake this time of year going over details of the holiday program one more time? Do physicians ever awaken and revisit a diagnosis they reached the day before? Do CEOs find themselves in dark bedrooms anticipating the next day’s board meeting?
I imagine it happens to all of us. We awaken and worry about money, our health, our kids or something we said to someone that we wish we could take back.
I’ve found that trying to work logically through these emotional morasses in the dark is rarely fruitful. As hopelessly diurnal creatures, we seem to be at our worst in the midnight hour, trying to work rationally through a complex issue. Those hours are fraught with doubt and paranoia and fear. Demons lurk. The worst-case scenario nearly always rises to the top when our brains want to be sleeping and blood flows like cold sap through our capillaries. Crisp, clear reasoning is a rare commodity when the little hand is on the little numbers.
So, those of us now in this murky purgatory have choices. Do we turn to our deep-breathing spouses and say, “Hey. You awake?” This usually leads to secondary problems. Do not go there, I say. Let a sleeping spouse lie.
Food is an option for some, I suppose. I hate leaving my cozy covers for those cool kitchen floors to make a piece of toast. But I’ve done it, and it does divert your mind from the cranial wrestling match.
If the spell is on me good, I’ll usually get out of bed, grab a book and read it until the words get fuzzy. By then, the dialogue in the book has superseded the dialogue in my brain. The pillow is cool again. Unfettered sleep usually returns.
By the dawn’s early light, all the issues seem to clarify. We have either worked through our issues or not. But reason has returned. Perspective is back. Things look much better.
Our eyes may feel as if someone has sprinkled ore dust in them, but we can deal with that. The sun is up. Let’s go do what needs to be done.
Sam Cook is a Duluth News Tribune columnist and outdoors writer. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at “twitter.com/samcookoutdoors.”