Battling Demons and Dreams and Overactive Imaginations

Soon after I awoke this morning, I developed a craving for congee. My impatience kicked in at the same time, so I cobbled together many (but not all) of the ingredients for basic congee, threw them in the Instant Pot, and am now hoping for the best. I have not familiarized myself with the directions for using the Instant Pot, which is a mistake; I tend to avoid directions unless the outcome of avoiding them is almost cataclysmic. That’s not always true, but usually. Give me a chain saw and a radial arm saw and an oxy-acetylene torch and watch the fun begin. I hope the outcome of making congee is less dangerous than the prospective encounter with shop tools. I may know by the time I finish relieving my fingers of letters of the alphabet and other keyboard characters.

My SleepNumber app informs me I did not sleep well last night. I did not need the app to tell me that; I was well aware that I was restless all night and slept only in fits and starts. It failed to capture one of two trips to pee, though, so I am not sure I should believe all it tells me. But it says I did not fall asleep for an hour and twenty-two minutes after getting in bed and that sounds about right; I had a hell of a time getting to sleep. According to the app, that finally happened at 1:33 a.m. The subsequent “restful” sleep amounted to two hours and forty-two minutes of my five hours in bed. So, I was tossing and turning for roughly half the night. The app gave me a SleepNumber score of 15 for last night; I average 61 and my best ever was 92. I have work to do on making my sleep patterns restorative.

Regardless of how long it took and how restless it was, I finally awoke at 5:14 a.m. from a disturbing dream, in which I asked a burly and very unfriendly-looking guy blocking my old red car to move his jalopy of a car out of my way. Then I realized I had lost the keys to my red Ford, a late 1950s model, that was improperly parked in the driveway in front of a monstrous and horribly disorganized box store (I had been inside). My assumption is that I was in Mexico, in that all the people I encountered spoke Spanish. Somewhere in the dream I realized I was supposed to be somewhere soon, but I had no idea where, and I had no transportation, given my misplaced or lost keys. There was more, but it’s gone now. But, toward the end of the dream (I think), it occurred to me that I have to record an introduction for a church insight presenter mid-week and the timing of that recording could conflict with my wife’s visit to the wound center in town.  After I awoke, I consulted my calendar and discovered there is no conflict, so I tore that little shred of anxiety from my psyche and discarded it. God, dreams are bizarre! They wrap one in such convoluted fears and place the dreamer in circumstances that he would never encounter in the real world of consciousness.

I wonder whether our lives would be appreciably better if all we had to worry about was staying out of the reach of hungry predators, finding adequate sources of food every day, and securing a reasonably safe and comfortable place to sleep each night? If we could discard worries about overeating, asylum-seekers, Presidential elections, the Oxford comma, too much salt, mass extinctions, Supreme Court appointments, artificial international borders, drug cartels, military spending, etc., would the challenges of survival seem less onerous and more appealing?

I remember so very little about my carefree childhood; assuming, of course, it was carefree as I suppose most childhood is. I wish I did, though. I wish I remembered a time when I lived for the moment and worried about nothing. That must be among the most spectacular and attractive mental states available (or not) to human beings.  I envy people who can remember in great detail the joys of childhood. I cannot remember much about any phase of my life, up to and including retirement—it’s like my memory of books and movies; once I experience them, most of the detail vanishes into the mist.

Soul-crushing worry and subsequent regret, though, stick with me for years. Someone told me recently I should be in counseling/therapy. They may be right. Either that or the magic pill I wrote about not long ago. Not the one that makes me larger, nor the one that makes me small, nor the ones that mother gave me… Where the hell is Alice when you need her? Someone else, a person who periodically partakes of mood altering substances, says they are not as innocent and innocuous as some say and as I’ve believed since the 1970s. That’s another thing one might not need to worry about if predators, food, and shelter were the only things that really warranted one’s time and attention. It occurs to me that some people who go “off-grid” may be battling their demons, the ones comprising what we ironically call modern “civilization.”

Demons, I think, are the attributes of our society that needlessly drag us into caves and beat us bloody and senseless with truncheons originally designed to provide for our protection. Somewhere along the line the purpose of these devices, intended originally to bludgeon attacking wolves and tigers, morphed into tools of control and subjugation.

Wait… Is the congee ready? Indeed it is. This post, therefore, shall be abandoned to its own devices, whether truncheons, clubs, cudgels, sticks, blackjacks, or hammers.

Now that was worth waiting for, in my opinion.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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