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Honoré Daumier: The Hazard of Sleeping on a Journey (1843)

"I could be participating in One Mysterious Dream."

"I will take to the morning on the first day of my life,
and wander through the sparkling dew and sunshine,
and let her icy tingle wipe the sleep out of my soul,
for it seems to me I surely have been dreaming all this time;
but I almost half remember,
this one mysterious dream,
that came upon me just before I rose."
—One Mysterious Dream (A lyric I wrote back in the seventies)

I'm uncertain whether I'm Sleepwalking through this part of my life since I have little with which to compare my present state of mind, state of mind being at best a fleeting sort of experience, and not the sort to hang around to serve as the basis for any comparison, but I feel as though I might have recently been less than fully attentive.
I could ascribe this sensation to any number of causes. I seemed to notice when my doctor started actively managing my blood pressure by means of prescription drugs that I became dozy as a result. I kicked nicotine last year, cutting off a supplier of brain stimulation, resulting in distinctly less sparkly thoughts. I've been decaffeinated for decades, but I've lately been eyeing The Muse's coffee supply, wondering if I might not do myself altogether too much damage if I just tried a half caf/half decaf beverage. I have occasionally grabbed a square of deep dark chocolate, hoping that it might help me snap out of this, if, indeed, I am engaged in a snap-outable sort of experience. Like I said, I remain uncertain whether I'm Sleepwalking, but I have my suspicions.

My sleep patterns have shifted since The Muse and I returned to live in the original Villa Vatta Schmaltz. I can appreciate how they might. No longer on the kind of guard only exile induces, I might well sleep more soundly here, surrounded by old familiars. I'm still managing to wake up and get to work on time, sometime between two and four each morning, no exceptions, but I notice myself more inclined to settle back in for a second round of sleep after I've finished writing. Where I once rarely slept more than about four hours a night, I some days almost double that yet still often feel drowsy and inattentive. Was there not a time—certainly there once was a time—when I slept soundly, awoke refreshed, and engaged crisply, when I felt fully pesent? I've grown to doubt I ever experienced such a life. It might have been that I have always been Sleepwalking but just recently started noticing, though I remain uncertain.

Several of my physicians have suggested that I might have some sort of sleep disorder, suggesting—surely jesting—that I might be a candidate for wearing frogman gear for sleeping. I dismissed this notion out of hand and not only because I could not imagine myself wearing frogman gear for sleeping. I could not imagine myself sleeping while wearing frogman gear. I'm rather particular about my sleeping arrangements. I often just curl up on the top of the covers and sleep for hours, sometimes but not often, crawling under the covers for the last half hour of sleep. I'm almost always awake when my alarm goes off. I often turn it off just before it sounds so that it won't disturb The Muse, who slumbers unaware of the drama going on around her. At least my blood pressure's normal now. That's certainly a blessing or something.

I am often moved to wonder, though, after the utility of all we've come to know. Most especially, we know what's bad and what's good for us, though we often tussle over the details. Innumerable newspaper articles have extolled the absolute safety of caffeinated beverages, though to me those articles sound a little desperate and self-serving, as if written under the influence of altogether too much coffee or by an addict experiencing the imminent threat of losing access to caffeine. I've learned that caffeine works as a kind of poison in me because my body apparently cannot properly metabolize it. Still, modern times seem to run on it and I wonder sometimes if I'm lagging the beat because I starve myself of the fuel providing that beat. My grandfather died early due to smoking. I've about exhausted my opportunities to die early, regardless of the reason, since I'm coming into the territory where dying often gets ascribed to natural causes. It sometimes seems as if we have the choice of dying early or by natural causes, and that the reward for living the good and careful life comes by extension followed by natural causes, whether we're Sleepwalking or cakewalking through it. I remain uncertain whether I'm Sleepwalking or present. For all I know for certain, I could be participating in One Mysterious Dream. Who isn't?

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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