Made to Feel This Way

Last night, I hardly slept. At 3 am, I resigned myself to my sleepless fate, put on the kettle, and read the guts of Lullabies for Little Criminals. As I turned page after page, I thought defiantly: Who said I had to sleep at this hour anyway? I don’t have to be tired in the morning. I could stay in bed until midday.

By nine am, I was awoken by the sound of the car park coming to life. I shoved earplugs into my ears and waited to be sucked into a silent slumber. It didn’t happen. The challenging inner voice piped up: Who said I needed eight hours sleep in order to function? And I can go for a nap later, if needed. 

I logged onto the laptop to peruse the papers online and I came across this article in The Guardian. Interestingly, it was all about sleep and how most of us don’t really understand it. The author questioned if we really need a solid eight-hour block of slumber. He suggested we sleep in stints, like we apparently used to do in the good ol’ days. I closed the laptop in satisfaction. Just because I’d only had a couple hours’ sleep, didn’t mean I should choose to be exhausted for the day.

All this made me wonder what other things I was feeling just because some unquestioned “fact” told me I should. When I felt ugly or beautiful, was it really me or the media and fashion industry’s guidelines I’d gullibly swallowed? When I felt worthwhile or useless, whose opinion was taking precedence over my own?

Who had decided the “right” way for us to look, to work, to live our lives, and to conduct our relationships? And what constituted “success” in this society? A house, a family, and a pensionable career? What about the other, intangible, aspects of life? Fun? Connection? Peace of mind?

I walked by the river and smiled at strangers, then sauntered into a café and ordered an espresso, even though all the “healthy” people tell me that coffee is hard on the stomach, introduces too much heat into the body, and that the caffeine high swiftly switches to a sorry slump. “You’d do better with a herbal tea,” they’d advise, smiling their white smiles.

I took a few gulps as I jotted down my thoughts. My stomach’s fine. I’m not too hot. And I’m simply not tired. Okay, I had to admit that it was a little hard on the stomach. I suppose there’s a difference between doing things because I want to and doing things to prove the point that I refuse to be told what to do. That, in its own pathetic way, was another manner of being controlled – by my ego. If I’d listened to my body, I would have ordered a tea. A black one, mind you, with caffeine and tannins. There I go again…

I realise that it takes a while to banish old belief systems and strip away the ego before you can even catch a glimpse of the perfection of your unshakeable core. Paradoxically, the key is not to even try. Just be the witness. And enjoy the show.

I actually am quite tired. Damn.

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8 responses to “Made to Feel This Way

  1. Good to see the drink worked for you:)) I woke up like this yesterday – not fun at all:( I had no chi the whole day, but luckily I got an extended tai chi session in though! Great post and I look forward to sharing more with you :))

  2. I just love the topic of what is right, and how what we are told effects us as an individuals. When you think about it for a long time you really start to ask allot of questions.

  3. I’ve asked myself questions like this but the fact is I do function better if I have at least 7 hours of sleep. It doesn’t always happen so it’s good to remember that it’s not absolutely vital every night. We get so used to believing media hype about what’s ‘right’ or what we ought to look or feel like, and I think it’s good if we question it from time to time, although some of it is based on experience and common sense. However, if you find something that works for you I reckon you should stick with it, whether or not it’s what you’re ‘supposed’ to do. One of the nice things about being thinking human beings is that we have the flexibility to make up our own minds about things. Thank you for reminding me of all this.

  4. You’re welcome :)
    Ah, I’m the same – I like to get a good night’s sleep.
    Yes, it’s wonderful to think (and feel) for yourself and not unquestioningly accept everything we’re fed by society.

  5. I had a terrible time sleeping last night, also. I had a really busy day today so decided I needed to go to bed early so I could be well rested. I was not listening to my body – just my mind and my body was not tired. I tossed and turned getting more and more worried about getting enough sleep. My day went just fine so the idea that I needed this certain amount of sleep proved to be just my own fear. I am constantly hearing sleeping medication advertisements on the radio and see them all over – it really is a huge industry. Perhaps I should package my own product – LISTEN TO YOUR BODY AND FOLLOW YOUR OWN GUIDANCE – some day that could be a really winning product.

  6. That is definitely a winning formula! Bottle it and take regularly ;-)

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