Last night my girlfriend Bianca and I left Montreal, where we had gone for a mini vacation, at around 11 PM. We then drove straight through the night and finally got home and to sleep in time to watch the sunrise at 6 AM. Given that I spent hours staring out a windshield at empty pavement stretching on for mile after mile, I had plenty of time to think, especially about the beauty we sometimes miss when we are exhausted and choose to go to sleep.
Stick with me here. Yes, I was extremely tired. Yes, sitting in a car for that long makes your body stiff and your mind numb. But there was also something gorgeous about that ride. At times a thick fog pelted me with its haze, and the world around me dripped into a puddle of light suspended in front of my car. The mountains of Vermont were like verdant dying embers, a flame that’s fallen asleep to dream pleasant dreams. There was a strident quiet pervading everything, this despite the fact that I was hurling through space at 65 miles per hour.
Finally, my drowsy and groggy mind began to form a question from the silence: If I could go without sleep, would I? How many more books could I read, bike trips could I take, poems could I write, things could I explore? Daylight reveals what is already there, but darkness makes the mysteries of life crawl out from under the rocks. Is it better to sleep and rest, or to stay awake and explore?
You can guess what the poet in me says! But what about the social entrepreneur? I’m not so sure. There’s no doubt that I wasn’t as productive today as I would have been had I had a full night’s rest. Still, maybe we are all too rested and too comfortable. Maybe there is a delicate dance between physical limits–the body needs sleep–and emotional ones–the soul needs mystery. And maybe the way we choose to dance dictates the way we lead our lives and the impact we have on the world.
So what will it be, then? When shall we shut our eyes to dream, and when will we force them open to see what is already there? Perhaps we do neither well enough, for to change the world we must both see things for what they are and dream up new ways for them to be.
Just some thoughts from a sleep-deprived mind.