Why I No Longer Set an Alarm When I Go to Sleep

I used to believe it’s sad to think about sleep during the day, to be longing for sleep when you’re awake. Sleep, I thought, is an escape, and if you feel the need to escape, it must be quite bad.

But is sleep indeed an escape? And an escape from what? If the waking state was the primary reality of human beings, and if our living in that reality was always and without exceptions a hardship, then we could consider sleep an escape.

But our reality is composed of both sleep and wake, both playing a huge role in our well-being. That the waking state takes up two thirds, and sleep only one third of our lives, does not mean the latter is less important. We live in both, and need both.

The waking state is not always a hardship, either. I used to think it is for personal reasons, but now I’ve become acquainted with many more of the experiences that life has in store.

There is pleasure in life, and there is love. There is enthusiasm and exhaustion, and there is sadness and pain. There is also the feeling that one is actually lucky to be alive. And there is much more.

Coming back to not-so-personal beliefs, let’s remember that the time we spend asleep is equally valuable as our waking time. It is a time for rest, a time perfect for connecting with our inner lives, a time for dreaming and, let’s not forget about that: for growing.

But we’re reluctant to accept this fact of life, aren’t we, the twenty-first-century high-speed human machines? We minimize the time for sleep to have more of it for work, game playing, partying and whatnot. We treat sleep as if it was a necessary evil, often resorting to it only when we’re completely exhausted.

You’ve been there, haven’t you? If you haven’t, then my congratulations. But most of us relegate sleep to a place down at the bottom on their list of priorities. “Sleeping won’t get us a financial upgrade, awesome friends and photos from an enviable exotic trip, so why waste our time?”

There are at least two reasons… no, not to “waste our time”, but to change our minds about sleep so that it doesn’t seem a waste of time. Aaand to finally sleep enough.

Reason one is very simple, and you already know it: we need sleep. Our bodies, our minds, our everything needs sleep like plants need the sun. There’s no denying it, even if we like denying our needs so much. Remember: there’s no shame in being in need of something, so there’s no need to deny it.

Reason two is arguable, and I am going to argue for it: sleep makes our lives richer and more interesting. If we were to go with the current conception of a human being as a sort of organic robot, with brain for its main computer, stomach for the fuel tank and so on, we’d make ourselves dull and exhausted.

We’re not machines. We’re animals with an enormous capacity for experiencing things. Numerous things (see the personal paragraph above). And I have no doubt that we experience and remember them more fully when we are rested than we do when trying to fight exhaustion and boredom.

Our lives get more interesting also thanks to the dreaming we do while asleep. Seriously, wWhat would they be without those strange nightly phantasms, reflections on their possible meaning in the daily light, and evening discussions with our loved ones about whether they mean anything at all?

These are my reasons for not feeling bad when I think about sleep during the day, not setting an alarm when I go to sleep, and enjoying most of all the days when absolutely no external force can make my eyes open until they open by themselves in the morning.

What are yours? If you don’t have any, go find some, quickly. Because sleep is quite a lovely state.

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A source that made me reflect on my attitude to sleep, and also a place for you to look for reasons to start getting enough sleep: The Cure for Insomnia Is to Fall in Love with Sleep Again

On a less serious note: A video presenting a healthy attitude to sleep

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Nighty night!
mulan

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Cockroaches Don’t Stand a Chance // Word Issues #5

This is my end-of-year rant about security plus a little lesson of Polish.

There is a beautiful Polish expression used to refer to the place one lives in: “u siebie”. It’s difficult to translate it into English literally because, unlike the English “at one’s (place)”, it uses a form of the reflexive rather than the possessive pronoun. In this way, on the lexical level, it doesn’t point to a place but to a person — its owner and/or inhabitant. “At oneself” could be the closest lexical equivalent… if it wasn’t so unintelligible.

Anyhow, it’s one of the expressions in the Polish language I thoroughly love. Because even if it stands only for the simple concept of “place of habitation”, to me it carries a load of very important meaning. What does it mean to be at your own place or, forgive the crudity of the translation, “at oneself”?

For the period of my life which I spent living in my parents’ house and with a depressive mindset dominated by insecurity, I didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t feel like the house was my own place and in fact, no place was “home enough” for my troubled mind. Then, as I began to realize the trouble, I slowly convinced myself that I should take better care of myself. In the meantime, I made some awesome friends, moved out to Krakow, began therapy, and all along was learning how to simply be good to myself so that I don’t fall in any trap my own mind may have in store for me.

cockroach
Photo by Toby Hudson (Wikimedia Commons)

Because for many reasons, my mind isn’t a great place to be. But as I was learning to take care of myself, I recently realized that every physical place I have lived in for some time — my first Krakow kitchen/room, which I hated because it had no doors and no privacy; my second, cosy room in what is known as one of the more dangerous districts of Krakow; and my current place of living, an ugly flat that I’m sharing with two guys and an army of cockroaches — is my place, a place where I can “be at myself” (być u siebie), where I can “go back to myself” (wrócić do siebie) every evening, and where I can also “invite someone to myself” (zaprosić kogoś do siebie).

Once again, forgive me the crudity of it, but you get the concept, don’t you? It’s not really about the place you live in. It’s about the feeling of security you have found in yourself. Not in the fact of being in the place you made your first steps in, and where your mom is to bake your favourite cake to cheer you up, or anything. Not in the fact of living on your own, and having personally bought all the items that are in your flat, either. Not even in the fact of liking the place: as I moved into my current place of living, I was repulsed by it. I remember telling SO, who helped me move my stuff there, that it’s so ugly I was never going to like it.

But now, I like it regardless of the cockroaches and all — because I live there, and if I live there, it must be a nice place. C’mon, with all the reading, thinking, crying, talking, and laughing I’ve done there? With everything good I’ve done there to maintain that feeling of security, even if I lose it sometimes? Cockroaches don’t stand a chance of making me dislike it.

I wish for all of you to feel secure in yourselves in the coming year and on, so that we all have a secure “place” to go back to, wherever that might be.

Mulan

Your Body Is A Brush

Like so many others, I sometimes find it difficult to look at myself in the mirror. Like so many others, I sometimes react to other people’s bodies with reluctance: why so many of them on this bus, why so tired and sweaty, why do I have to put up with them? I would like to be more body-positive but…

Whether we like it or not, we live in a society that puts a lot of stress on the aesthetic function of the body. If a body isn’t aesthetically pleasing, its owner gets cast out. On the other hand, we constantly tell each other, on the internet and other media as well as in (what we call) real life, not to objectify people’s bodies because that’s bad.

But whether we like it or not, we see bodies as objects anyway, and all this talk about objectification is just so much stupid shit. You can hardly “objectify” something that already is an object.

And we do treat other people’s bodies as objects when we look at them, interpret them, talk about them. They can be objects of our interest, reluctance, desire, disgust, affirmation, you name it. Nothing wrong about any of that!

The only thing that’s wrong is when you actually do to them things their owners haven’t agreed to. That brings to mind the libertarian view of the body as a person’s property, but I guess you could also simply call that common sense.

Still, we do take offence if someone talks about the human body as an object… Aaah…

I could also quote Schopenhauer, who was pretty straightforward in his view of the body as an object. He saw it as an object unlike any other, though; he said the body is the immediate object, meaning that it enables you to perceive other objects in the world.

You have eyes that can see; ears that can hear; skin that can feel. Basically, you have an amazing tool to make yourself a representation of the world and, if you’ll excuse my silly allusions, shape it according to your will.

Which brings me to another source of my reflections that I want to quote: Glennon Doyle Melton’s article Your Body Is Not Your Masterpiece, which, at this point, I’ll just leave the floor to…

[…] Your body is not your art, it’s your paintbrush. Whether your paintbrush is a tall paintbrush or a thin paintbrush or a stocky paintbrush or a scratched up paintbrush is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that YOU HAVE A PAINTBRUSH which can be used to transfer your insides onto the canvas of your life — where others can see it and be inspired and comforted by it.

Your body is not your offering. It’s just a really amazing instrument which you can use to create your offering each day. Don’t curse your paintbrush. Don’t sit in a corner wishing you had a different paintbrush. You’re wasting time. You’ve got the one you got. Be grateful, because without it you’d have nothing with which to paint your life’s work. Your life’s work is the love you give and receive – and your body is the instrument you use to accept and offer love on your soul’s behalf. […]

We are encouraged to obsess over our instrument’s SHAPE – but our body’s shape has no effect on its ability to accept and offer love for us. […] The truth is that all paintbrush shapes work just fine – and anybody who tells you different is trying to sell you something. Don’t buy. Just paint. […]

What else to say? I’ll confess that it just occurred to me now, when I looked down on my hands, how much I don’t like them. It happens all the time. Maybe I should start thinking more often about how great it is to be able to type with them?

Maybe that’s what we all should do?

Have a great day,
Mulan

Don’t Be a Bitch… Darling

Besides being a very unfortunate thing to say to your darling, the above are words I’ve often said to myself lately.

The bitch’s habit is to tell myself every sluggish morning: “Get the fuck up.” But I try to change it and add at least some nice word at the end: “Get the fuck up… baby. I mean, get up, baby. That’s what I wanted to say. Baby.”

Cos I decided I’d be good to myself. It’s a long-term commitment that I’ve entered into some time ago to get healthier. And when I say healthier, I mean that on every level. So I decided not only to change my unhealthy thinking habits like criticizing myself e.g. for lying in, but also to adopt things like regular exercise and having dinner everyday.

And why am I (over-)sharing stuff like that with you?

Because I’ve seen too many people tormenting themselves with self-criticism (I’m not [insert adjective] enough, I’m such a bad person), and harming themselves through overwork (But I have to work!), substance abuse (C’mon, it’s just beer), or plain self-neglect (I’m fine, I don’t need a doctor). It’s actually scary how much harm people do to themselves.

And I know they’ll continue doing it regardless of what I may write here. Some people just won’t admit they’re harming themselves.

Still, I want to say that harming yourself won’t make things better. And, simple as it is, you’re the one who’s empowered to make them better.

So don’t be bad to yourself… darlings.

And take care.

Mulan