In The Third Sleep
Yesterday was probably the most horrible day of my life -- well, if not the most horrible, it was right up there with the worst of them. Not to be too indelicate, I was physically ill to my stomach by the time I got home, due to the stress and tension. I was exhausted. I decided the best remedy would be to curl up with my New Yorker magazine, decompress and sleep. After what I had hoped would be a fun-filled, light-hearted day, actually turned into a nightmare, I was certain my dreams would be filled with fire-breathing dragons and screaming banshees. Strangely, it was quite the opposite.
Dreams of Venus
My dreams were full of vivid images, but I found myself laughing. In one dream, I entered a contest and won an antique waffle iron. I haven't thought about waffle irons since God was a baby, so what on earth made me dream of winning a waffle iron? In another dream, I was jay-walking across a busy street, and a police car went past me, and the police waved their fingers at me, as if to say, "You shouldn't be jay-walking..." But they didn't stop and give me a ticket, but instead drove on past me.
In The Secret Life of Salvador Dali, the artist described sleep as a heavy monster that was "held up by the crutches of reality". That is as good as description as any. Sleep is the thing that heals us from the negative damage done to our psyches. It is not an escape from the day, but rather a means of processing and cleaning out the flotsam and jetsam that the brain has collected and does not need. Sleep is the cleaning lady of our brain.
O sleep! O gentle sleep!
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
~~ Wm. Shakespeare; 2 Henry IV
I am grateful for my absurd and silly dreams last night -- my newly-won waffle iron and my scolding policemen. They made me forget the horror of the day that preceded them. Today I think I will do some retail therapy and buy myself a waffle iron, just to remind myself that everything ultimately, no matter how painful, can be kept in its proper perspective.