Even as a small child I had trouble sleeping. To this day, I’m jealous of anyone who can just close their eyes and drift into deep and peaceful sleep. Many times during my life, my sleeping issues have been so bad that I literally dreaded to see night fall and couldn’t wait to see the sun rise.
I feel that my mind is one of the main reasons I can’t fall asleep quickly. My mind never seems to rest. It doesn’t take a vacation, a snow day or even a lunch or a dinner break. My mind just goes full steam ahead like a ship out to sea.
The other day, I took a watch in for a battery change. The repairman opened the back of the watch on the counter in front of me. All the hundreds of levers, screws and other moveable parts inside of the small watch reminded me of my mind. It’s no wonder the watch’s battery has to be replaced. Sometimes I feel like my mind needs a new battery.
In the darkness, when everyone else is asleep, my mind thinks it is at recess and lets the games begin. Everything seems bigger than it is as time slows down to a crawl. In the darkness, when there is nothing to distract you, your mind becomes even more active than normal. For those of you who also have trouble sleeping, you know how each minute seems like an eternity. When it’s just you and your mind, your thoughts always win.
The creative part of me plays a big role in my sleep patterns. There are so many things I want to create stirring around in my head that sleep runs away from them in the opposite direction. I certainly don’t want my creative thoughts to stop, but can’t they just take a nap for a few hours?
Worry gladly fills in the gaps that creative thoughts leave unused. There is a constant war going on in my head. Things I get excited about creating are colliding with all the clutter of worry. The battle with worry began early for me. My daddy wrote the book on worry while my mother thought it was useless.
The older I’ve become, the more I’ve tried to shift the way I think about the middle of the night. Instead of looking at it as a negative void, I try to put my worrying on the back burner and use the time productively by writing my columns, planning my next painting or making notes about ideas that pop into my head.
The recent state of our nation and world has definitely sprinkled fertilizer on my garden of worry. It makes me feel helpless and out of control. I can still hear Mother saying to me, “Mark if there is something you can do to change it, then do it. If not, you can’t worry. You just have to let it go!”
Such wise words to live by. I’m sure we all need to remind ourselves of this on a daily basis. So, when worry seems to be winning the battle, I turn to my creativity to lift me up. When I’m creating, my mind doesn’t dwell on negative things. When I’m creating, I’m in control.
Recently, after a very restless night, something happened that made me put things into perspective. While I lay in bed in complete darkness, everything was totally quiet. Then, as if on cue, a single bird started to chirp. Other birds immediately joined in and before long the darkness gave way to light.
If we are lucky, each of us is given a new day to live. We can waste time worrying about all the clutter and noise surrounding us, or invest it in positive things that enrich not only our lives but others’ lives as well. The choice is ours. I’ve decided I’m going to be like the bird and begin each day on a positive note.