Bedtime Stories For The Insomniac

Insomnia . . .

I lie in bed and try to find a comfortable spot on my right side. I straighten my legs. Then I curl them. I move the pillow to fit the contour of my neck and support my head. Then I pull my legs from the covers. Then I cover them back up because the blankets feel more comfortable that way.
Next, I roll to the left side and straighten my legs. Then I curl hem back. I adjust my pillow to fit the contour of my neck and support my head. I try to lay as still as I can with my eyes closed but the growing thoughts, which began as tiny seeds, have already grown roots and sprouted throughout my mind.
Once this happens, the thought process takes over. And once the thought process takes over, I cannot sleep until the energy from my thoughts is spent. This is like sitting in a car as it runs with a full tank of gas and waiting for the gas to run out without driving anywhere. I have to wait for the energy to fade. The problem here is this usually happens 20, maybe 30 minutes before my alarm clock says it’s time to wake up.

The tiny seeds, I just mentioned. The seeds that root and sprout become like weeds in my mind. They devour the minutes of rest and suffocate my ability to relax.
The worst part of this is when I look at the red, stick-figure numbers that glow on the black face of my alarm clock. The clock changes numbers to add minutes as an insult to my sleeplessness.
So tired but I cannot sleep. I have too much energy to lay still, but I feel like I can hardly keep my eyes open.

Well, since sleeping is not an option—
I figured I might as well write.

I was trying to think about the first words I learned to read. I suppose it was something easy like, “Cat,” or “Dog.” We used to have vocabulary words and spelling tests. I remember that.
One of my biggest classroom fears as a boy was being asked to read in front of the class. This is not a fear that went away. Aside from my insecurity for the sound of my voice, and my struggles with social anxiety, I struggle to read in public.

Reading silently is a trick for the eyes. The eyes scan letters and the brain forms a word,words form a sentence, and sentences form paragraphs. However, reading aloud adds an extra step. Like a man with a stutter, my eyes move quicker than my mouth. When I read out loud, the words lose their eloquence. When this happens my voice fails to keep the rhythm of the sentence. I often stutter or fumble to pronounce the next word. This is one of the reasons why I never do public readings. It has become quite a phobia of mine.

As a boy in school, I used to dread when the teacher went around the room to have students read one paragraph at a time. I became nervous and my palms would sweat. Instead of following along with the reading and understanding the subject matter, I counted the students whose turns came before me to see which paragraph I had to read.

Once I matched the paragraph that met my turn, I read to myself. When I finished the paragraph, I read it again. I nervously rehearsed the words, over and over, until either the anticipation rested or my turn came up. In most cases, the anticipation never rested before my turn came.

I would read the paragraph to myself so that when my turn came, I could read out loud without stuttering or fumbling for the next word in the sentence. Often, I spent so much time concerned with the assigned paragraph, when my turn came, I peered up at the teacher with a surprised look on my face. The teacher would scold me to, “Pay attention,” which added to my nervousness, and nervously, I read the paragraph out loud without the proper rhythm of a sentence

Over the years, I managed to overcome some of my learning disabilities. I am not what anyone would call a, “Trained writer.” I am mostly self-taught. This does not mean I have been taught well. This only means that if I make it as a writer, or become what my opinion of what a writer should be—then I will have made it all on my own.

Reading is important. Language has a way of playing tricks on us. There are words that are spelled similarly; however, the words may not only have different meanings, but the pronunciation can be different as well. Palm and calm are spelled the same. But what about the word Bomb?
Bomb is spelled similarly to the word tomb, but the word tomb is pronounced differently from the word bomb. Home and Poem are not spelled the same at all but they sound similar. This is where language throws us off. For the record, however, I am not the first, nor will I be the last to mention these contradictions.

Life is the same way in the sense that we try to read situations and circumstance. And by read, I am not referring to literal words as much as I am referring to figurative situations. Life comes with signs, which may appear to be the same as other sings, but they have a different sound and definition.
We need understand how to read and grasp the subject matter. We need to look at a sign and be able to identify the contradictions. Same as when we drive on a road trip and pass a detour; our eyes need to adjust quickly to read the surroundings. Otherwise, we find us stuck in the bottleneck of traffic. If we fail to read the road signs, we end up lost somewhere on the wrong road, angry, and cursing ourselves while complaining, “I knew I should have turned when I had the chance!”

People come with signs too. And just like the written word, their language has a way of playing tricks on us. No different from the English language; people are filled with contradictions.

I am the same in this sense as I was as a young boy in the classroom.
I often get lost in the anticipation of what might happen next. I try to prepare myself for what might be said or which paragraph I need to read from. I nervously check my thought and rehearse so when it’s my turn to speak; my speech can keep the proper rhythm of a sentence.
Same as when I was in the classroom, my failure to read along with the class left me unprepared and unaware of the subject material. It’s not that I wasn’t paying attention. It’s that I was too nervous that I would sound stupid when my time came.

It is important to pay attention when it comes to reading people. When I didn’t pay attention in class, I missed out on the subject material. When it comes to reading people, if you miss out on the subject—you run the risk of missing the warning signs that tell you to turn away as soon as possible.
Next thing you know, you curse out loud and swear, “I should have known better.”
Next thing you know, you’re like me; lying in bed, looking at the red numbers on the black face of a clock and wishing you knew how to read better

Insomnia . . .

it’s 5:00am.

Guess I’ll give sleep another shot before the sun comes up.



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