I can’t sleep. I call Michael. "Can you please come over and install my air-conditioner?" Because no matter how many things I’m capable of doing on my own, I’m not Popeye, despite my affinity for spinach.
“No, sweetie. I am roller skating at the Roxy.” They still do that?
Defeated, I lie in the still heat, with a thin tank and sweat shorts; both are too small. It’s too hot for more, and if I lie naked, Linus won’t leave me alone. I reach for my lavender eye pillow and do nothing for 15 minutes. I do this everyday, schedule time to do nothing, for at least 15 minutes. We check our Outlook calendars and too often double book. We jam pack our days claiming we’ll have plenty of time to sleep when we’re dead. In doing nothing, you’re giving your inner self time to be heard. According to Martha Beck, if you’re too restless to do nothing, if even the idea makes you a little nervous, you’re avoiding truths. You’ve lost your compass and become too reliant on your watch.
Beck tells a story of a monster afraid of being killed. So he went deep into the forest and took out his heart, placing it in nesting boxes, like Russian dolls. One box into the next, then buried deep in the throat of the forest. Upon rejoining town, he was hunted, but since his heart was safe, he remained unwounded. I think you know where this is going by now. Although his heart was secure, it felt no joy, and when the townspeople finally found it, beneath theearth and leaves, within all the sealed boxes, it was a "mercy killing… the monster lost his lust for life."
A balance needs to be reached between loving like you’ve never been hurt, and preserving your heart and vulnerabilities in a box, like museum artifacts, or more pointedly, like party shoes. Sometimes you gotta take ‘em out and scuff up the bottoms, or else when the big event comes… you might slip on your ass… and don’t get me started about the blisters.
That’s why I make it a point to do nothing every day. So there is at least some breathing room, some chance, for new thoughts and memories. There’s a chance for intimacy and discovery. There’s a chance for hope to rise up.
Then, thank god, Michael shows up. Now I’m going to sleep with air-conditioning and a smile. Sometimes I love this life. Even if my shoes are all in a pile on the bottom of my closet.