the loneliness of the long distance sleeper

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the last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world

leonard cohen

on good days, with faltering steps, and thanks to the assistance of my flowery fold-up walking stick, i am able to move around this tiny patch of land in my small home town.

on bad days, my king size bed is my universe, my prison and my sanctuary. on bad days i get lost in a state of fever, and am engulfed by nightmares. on those days i reach around behind my back to try to find myself; i am here, but not here. i am drowning.

the problem with dreams is that we don’t get to choose where they take us, or what happens when we get there. (i haven’t mastered the art of lucid dreaming yet. i’ve been told you need to be flying in a dream in order to attempt to achieve this state. as far as i remember, i haven’t dream flown – or not without being in an aeroplane, at any rate – since childhood).

my problem with sleep is that i veer between getting hardly any, and getting far too much. and when sleep drags me down to the febrile place of nightmare’s deepest depths, that’s when the bearings i rely on to keep my head screwed on, and the right way up, truly start to fragment and fall apart.

i am thankful to various films and television dramas in this regard – inception, twelve monkeys, and a recent episode of doctor who with peter capaldi as the doctor, called heaven sent, come to mind – for showing a kind of approximation of my own dream life on the screen. i’m grateful to be reminded that i’m not the only person whose mind, or unconscious, conjures up such strange craziness, such horror shows.

what worlds we take ourselves to when we close our eyes and our breathing alters. i can be only inches from your skin, sharing the same pillow, even – yet i’m in places you will never visit, with people you will never meet, battling demons i cannot begin to describe to you. trying to make sense of no sense.

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