The Volatile Speed of Thought

Dearest Rachel –

I fell asleep in the rocking chair while watching YouTube videos with Daniel last night. That hardly counts as news, of course, but it leads to certain… issues… that affect the rest of the night. Because eventually, I find myself waking up only a little later than I would otherwise be going off to bed back in the day, and groggily go through the motions of my nighttime routine, only to drop into bed and discover my mind suddenly has no desire to go back to sleep anymore.

I’m told that this is how the human race functioned back in the days before the ubiquity of the electric light; we would go to bed shortly after the sunset, and wake up for a few hours around the middle of the night, only to return to bed for a few more hours of slumber before dawn. Obviously, there’s no one around to corroborate those assertions, so I have trouble accepting them on their face. But it’s amazing how, despite the darkness of the night, my mind will occasionally be like this, where it refuses for several hours to settle back down.

I’ve tried a few things to render myself either tired or bored enough to return to sleep, without much success. Part of the problem is working up enough energy to do the sorts of things that might truly get me to that state. The winter months, in particular, or notably lacking and humidity, and it’s actually quite the challenge to bring myself to lie here and dictate to Siri through dry and cracked lips. One of these days, I would like to hope, that there would be some sort of neural link that might allow me – and the authors of the future – the ability to dictate (and hopefully, subsequently edit, for reasons that should be obvious) directly from my mind, so that we could convey our wishes, opinions and concepts at the speed of thought.

Admittedly, there are days when my stream of consciousness seems as bare and dry as the wadi from which David collected the stones he would use to strike down Goliath. Even now, despite the fact that my mind refuses to shut down, it’s difficult to navigate, like a stretch of rapids that are positively littered with massive boulders throughout, running fast and treacherously through a weary soul that just wants to catch some shut-eye before the coming dawn.

If it were filled with memories – or even dreams – of your presence, that would be one thing. But it isn’t even that; it’s just assorted thoughts and images jumbled together like the remains of a scrapbook shredded by a tornado. And that’s probably overstating things, because I don’t recall any mental whirl that prompted this phantasmagoria. It’s just… there, and I can neither describe nor explain it – although what I most wish is that I could shut it off.

I confess that I’m only writing to you in an effort to either purge whatever is going on in my head, or to exhaust my mind sufficiently so that I can wrap up this letter, set down my phone, close my eyes, and not open them until the light from the morning makes its usual attempt to announce itself through the drawn but translucent shades of the bedroom. I wish it was for a more noble cause than that; perhaps some loving pillow talk for you tonight as you were to join me in here (this might well be around the time you might slink in here after falling asleep in the family room yourself, after all). But no; it’s just a case of a restless mind.

I guess I should be able to console myself with the fact that it’s not a matter of anxiety, as such. Oh, there are concerns, I suppose – the usual questions about what tomorrow may bring, hopes and dreams for the near and distant future – but none of it is the sort of thing that ought to be keeping me up at night, any more so than any other. It’s just not feeling like shutting down, for whatever unknown reason.

I sometimes find myself wondering, without any external indicators of time, what would we naturally gravitate to? Daniel and I have already come to the conclusion that, if we only eat when we’re hungry, the concept of ‘three squares a day’ is ridiculous; we just don’t need that much fuel. Without the benefit of night or day, were we to sleep only when we were tired, what would are days look like? How long or short would they be? I suspect we would be surprised at how different they might be, both from the length of the day as we are provided by nature, and from each other; one day might be 30 hours long, followed by another of maybe half that.

But it’s not an option we are given, as a general rule. We have the sun and the moon ruling the day in the night respectively, and we are rather required to abide by them. Only, ever so often, there are parts of us that insist on rebelling against those structures, whether we want them to or not.

For now, I’m going to see if I can beat them into submission. I’d like to think I’ve put enough thought into this letter that it might allow me a chance for rest. We’ll see what happens.

With that in mind, honey, wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

P. S. I think I’ve figured it out, although I wasn’t quite awake enough (and the day was too new for me to realize it); it’s the twenty-third of the month yet again. It’s been thirteen months now since your departure. Somehow, my mind knew it, even though it couldn’t articulate it, and the rest of me had to pay for it.

I still don’t know when I’m going to be over this, honey.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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