Wide Awake at Midnight


I had a short nap this afternoon, but what’s keeping me awake now? Could it be the Kilwin’s chocolates Diane brought me this afternoon?—all that caffeine and calories? Maybe I didn’t do enough of a workout in PT this morning? Nope…my shoulders tell me different. It is pretty darned hot in this room tonight: I’ve kicked off one blanket and turned down the heat. I’ve played 10 games of Mah Jong (lost every one, too), answered email, Through the wall I can hear my neighbor’s tv—she keeps it on all night…loud! (even though she’s sound asleep).

Then I realize what the irritant is: I am just a little bit angry with myself. Perhaps it’s all a function of getting more healthy, but I am thinking about how luxurious it is here, and how out of touch I feel with the world’s problems. I’ve always been a person with some social awareness, I think, and in my own little ways I try to remain aware of environmental issues, poverty, and human distress of many dimensions. But here, I’m surrounded by excess—too much food, too much noise, and a fairyland of reassurances that being self-centered, and even self-indulgent, is ok.

Maybe it is ok, when one is in a survival mode, as many of my companions are. It could be that there’s no room for social awareness when one is concerned with useless limbs and deceptive memories. For me, though, with increasing good health and energy comes a desire to re-enter the world: to become more aware of issues beyond too much salt in the soup and the color of the pineapple jello. I spent some of today working on a fundraiser to bring fresh food into local food pantries and I realize how much I need those kinds of activities: they heal my spirit. How many of the people living here might also be experiencing that same spiritual poverty and lack of contact with the world? Is there something we could do to remind ourselves of our human connection in a larger, more helpful context?

I think of these questions and realize they will have no answers at midnight, when sleep is necessary and elusive. However, I know these thoughts won’t go away in the morning of the approaching season of giving and renewal.


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