My mother always used to say that if only all the aging women of the world who were lying awake in the middle of the night could come together in some sort of idea-swapping convocation, the problems of the world could be easily solved. Finding myself at the doorstep of 60, likely about the same age my mom was when I remember her first saying this, I’m now discovering my own sleep pattern to be less than ideal. At night, I sometimes imagine all of the other humans at this stage in life who, like me, lay sleepless, their minds wandering to and fro, following after tangents or manically focusing on troubling thoughts.
Last night as I lay in my bed, unable to sleep, yet not alert enough to do anything, my mind was churning. This is the time when my ideas seem to flow without much effort. Mostly, I’m just drowsy enough that I can’t quite get pen and pad in hand, but every so often – a time or two a week – I’ll successfully jot things down. Things like topics for posts, short melodies, or prompts which I hope will bring the concepts cascading back to me in my waking hours. Disappointingly, when I do manage to write something down, my scribbling is not always legible in the light of day. So I’m often back where I started. Knowing that my ideas are still somewhere, inaccessibly located in the landscape of my dream self.
My sleepless moments were rich with nuanced ideas, but now, as I make the time to sit and write, I can’t bring them back. I can, however, remember some dreams from the night before, and these fascinate me. Highly detailed and other-worldly, they behave as memories and provide me with the feeling that I have traveled far and wide just since yesterday. I have always had an active dreamlife; many times I’ve awoken in the morning feeling as if I needed another night’s rest after a full itinerary of oneiric travels.
During the night a hot new app was busy transforming my photos into slick, genre-specific avatars. As I slept, I had dreamt of an old friend from high school, and, waiting for me in the morning was an image that was supposed to look like me, but instead looked like the woman who I’d just dreamt of. Earlier that week I’d thought about her – having never known her well and not having thought of her in a few decades – so I went to message her on Facebook but found that her career as an actor had put her out of my immediate range. There would be no hello across the years. I didn’t need her audience, but it was strange, really, the way in which she appeared to me both in a dream and then in an image the next morning. It felt as fantastical as the newly created images looked.
What this means – if anything – I haven’t a clue. But it seemed like another nod from the universe that there might really be cosmic or energetic links between people and events. I certainly believe in plain-old coincidences, but every now and then it’s so tempting to believe that things are meant to happen as they do. I remain ambivalent.
Why did I get a herniated disc when I was out busking? This seems a pointed and cruel irony; I was busking in part to make myself some much-needed money – and it was as I packed up my gear that I felt a lightning bolt of pain which sent me to the ground and ultimately ended up costing me a good $500. All this for a lousy $50 in tips. Just what the hell was this experience supposed to have done for me?
The past few weeks since the event I’ve been unable to walk, hardly able to move about my house. Stairs have been unbearable. At my wits’ end, I went to see a chiropractor (who came recommended to me by a local keyboardist who, like me, had also once broken his neck). It’s taken a few weeks of ESTIM sessions and having my spine stretched on a table (this allows the disc room to move back into place), but I am now able to move almost without pain. It’s still going to be a long road back to racewalking and mountain climbing, but at least now I have hope. I once told an eye doctor who was gazing into my injured sclera after a nasty accident with a tree branch, “Before you tell me anything, remember that hope is half of healing”. I firmly believe this to be true. Thankfully, I have hope again.
I’m not sure if I believe this back injury was a necessary experience, but it sure has highlighted for me how good I have things now, relatively speaking. It’s been humbling. Truly, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. I’m hoping my restored mobility will continue to remind me that I should take nothing for granted. Things could easily be much worse. I have it good, I know it.
This aging thing and its accompanying maladies, however, have begun to frighten me. I can see my face and my body getting older; I am noticeably changed from this time last year. And I’d be flat-out lying if I said it didn’t break my heart. Also, I’ve lost almost half of my hair over the past six months, due to a huge amount of stress – and this alone had seemed to be the worst indignity yet. Until, that was, I found myself unable to walk. (I’ve had to sub out of some lucrative holiday gigs, and that hurts too.)
I suppose that I need to focus on what I do have. A successful child and a warm and safe home.
And through the magic of AI I am now in possession of some lovely alternate images of my countenance, which, although illusory and not representative of my real self, serve to buoy my spirits. I will happily take an improvement of mood in any non-destructive way I can. For now, these dreamy images help take the edge off of this all-too-real reality.
While there are traces of some similarity, this image doesn’t really look like me; when you see photos of actor Virginia Madsen, I’m sure you’ll see the likeness to her. It is truly like our faces have merged in this image.