20 April, 2016

Late to Bed and Early to Rise

Too much on my mind, I haven’t slept well (or long) in weeks. At some point after 11:30 I drift off, usually dreamlessly, until the shout of “Count time!” So ingrained in me now is this 5 AM rising that sometimes I’m up before they call it. I gulp some water as I wait for the guards to pass, then piss and make a cup of coffee, because that’s preferable to lying there, wishing sleep upon myself until there’s no time left for sleep.

For fourteen years I’ve sworn that getting up that early for breakfast was for chumps. Sure, the lure of French toast, biscuits and gravy, eggs and potatoes, pancakes, et cetera tempts me, but adequate rest holds greater appeal. Suddenly my body — or is it my mind? — is rebelling. I’m up anyway. Might as well get a bellyful for my trouble.

There’s a meditative aspect to this, I’ve discovered. Pre-dawn, the prison is quiet and dim. The only distractions are the ones you admit — TV, radio, conversation (if your cellmate’s awake). Your thoughts, basically, are your own. I choose to sit in the dark with my mug of steaming-hot Folgers, just being. After the call to breakfast, once I’ve sallied to the chow hall and back, then I’ll pick up a pen, a book, or the latest New Yorker, and train my brain on the page. Like a series of hyperoxygenating breaths before diving underwater, the dead time seems to keep me going through the day.

I still work out just as thoroughly as ever; I still eschew naps. How I’ve been functioning so well on only five and a half hours’ sleep per night is a mystery. For how long will I keep it up? I’m not complaining, nor am I worried, only curious. The way I think of this sleeplessness is no different from the way I think of the great majority of life’s issues: it’ll work itself out, one way or another.

If only I could be so at peace with all of my circumstances!

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Lacking computer access of any kind, Byron cannot respond to your comments but is relayed them and appreciates your kind remarks.