It’s 2:13am Friday morning and I’m having insomnia. I don’t suffer from insomnia like I did in high school. I sleep more nights than I don’t now, but every once in a while a little change in my daily routine throws me off and that little bit of anxiety is enough to keep me up for hours. In the morning I have a doctor’s appointment and then a full day planned of recording and farewell gatherings to send me off to California. I guess it’s all a bit stressful for an unhealthy introvert.
I’m far from having the health and fitness levels that I really do hope to achieve one day. I’ve decided that the only way to respond to the injustice of my years of insomnia and all the shit that it’s put me through is to start doing everything in my power to get healthy and strong until I no longer experience nights like these, until insomnia is just a memory that I can say I’ve overcome. I want to be alive again, full of energy, and full of self-confidence. But, the reality is that I’m still far from it and it still hurts.
My depression has been deep within me and stirring great waves of fear and doubt. There are days when I feel like a stranger even to myself. I’ve never known depression like this before. You become afraid of other people, afraid of their opinions of you, afraid of seeing things in them that you long for. And of course you’re so sad it actually does begin to hurt. But ironically, I sense that this is a time for new beginnings, and I’m choosing to respond to that premonition with open arms.
I leave in a week for Davis. The truth is that I’m terrified. My body is not ready. I won’t sleep and I’ll be tired and lonely and doubtful that moving for an internship was the right decision. And I will surely continue to suffer with the health issues that I’ve been struggling with this summer, but I do believe that it will soon pass and I will be a better person on the other side.
I’m packing some art supplies to make sure that I have a healthy avenue to channel my feelings. A few canvases, some pens and markers, my guitars, my new journal, and some recording equipment will travel with me along with my bike, which is also an art supply, I suppose. I really want to live simply. I want to have a room with empty walls, so that I will be forced to make my own art. I predict that it will be very therapeutic for me, especially when times are hard, to frame finished products and hang them around me. Kind of symbolic of the work in progress that I am.
This might as well be labeled an insomnia blog because most of what I write is done on nights like these when I finally decide to sit upright using my pillow as a pad for my back and channel my exhausted frustration, weakness, and loneliness into words that heal and remind me of my purpose. This is mainly the blog of an insomniac. There are many things that I’ve learned as one who struggles from time to time with falling asleep at night, but namely I’ve learned how it is to suffer. It’s humbled me quite a bit. A day with oxygen in my lungs is worthy of praise. Before I had insomnia I didn’t realize how blessed it is to simply wake up and breathe—how wonderful it is to be living even in a world as broken as this. Part of me wonders if God is trying to tell me something on nights like these. I wish it was as simple as seeing a shooting star—a sign that God is still here and a reminder that God has not forgotten me. But, I must admit to myself that all I’ve seen for these years of open eyes is the sheer darkness of my room.
If we theologize from experience it’s no wonder that I’ve developed a disconnect from God. A part of me weeps on nights like these because I see myself as someone who’s failed. I don’t know how exactly, but something about being an insomniac makes me feel like somewhere down the line I did something profoundly wrong to mess up my rhythms of slumber. But from what I read in scripture, it’s the broken that God sits with at night. This is precisely what made Jesus so provocative. He was not your average rabbi. He chose disciples who were full of flaws and used them as living testimonies to God’s kingdom. He taught them to sit and have meals with sinners. He taught them the power of living life together because the reality is that God wants all of us together.
I think about this often and it doesn’t make sense how God could be this good to desire a relationship with us all and to live with us in the Kingdom. But, how could I say no to that? I’ve weighed the pros and cons for a while now and there’s nothing inherently adverse about that except the fact that God calls us to a path of suffering, a path that leads to the cross. Of course this would be a faith of dead ends if this path of suffering ending in suffering, but Christ tells us otherwise. He says the path of the Suffering Servant doesn’t end in death, but that God chooses to vindicate it and restores his creation, which becomes manifest in his kingdom. So, maybe these nights are my way of carrying my cross—God’s way of giving me the opportunity to pick up and carry the faith that God’s power is revealed in our weakness.
Well, this proves that I’m still gluten intolerant. . . Oh well.
I still feel most alive during the night. I like knowing that I could leave this place and not get swarmed by people and noise. Solitude is something I thrive in. For me, writing is not a struggle with silence, but rather a devotion with it.
Lately, this city seems to be closing in on me. It’s hard to find places around here where one can just be alone and breathe the air in peace. My Masi rode bike is my best friend right now (well, besides my acoustic guitar and my journal). I’ve been riding it all over in hopes of discovering such places. Though I haven’t had much luck, I have had time to ponder things in the privacy of my mind. I think about the past, about people and feelings and many things in between. I promise you I am not this vague in my head.
I often reflect on the beauty I’ve seen. It makes me smile and frown at the same time, which explains my blank expression these days. I think about myself as if I’m being watched—as if there is someone who sees me and knows exactly what I’m thinking and where I’m going. This person cheers me on as I ride on past the cars and past the city lights into the pumpkin orange of the sun-drenched horizon. I begin to daydream and I picture a season much like this one where the birds are playing and I am far far away from my classes sitting on a grass hill doing nothing but delighting in the hope of the Lord. This here is timeless. It’s now and its forever. From here I re-enter reality and begin lots of prayers that usually end with “I don’t know what to pray. I just want to do the right thing.” At this point I wish upon the moon a thousand times before pedaling to familiar territory, and I hope quietly to myself that tomorrow I am blessed with the privilege do it all again because this is just what I need right now.
God gives and God takes for reasons I can’t even begin to fathom. There aren’t words for my heart right now. When I close my eyes I see hues of blue and red. They’re sad colors. And the rain… it’s sad rain for once. It usually sprinkles inspiration all over my skin, but now it makes me cry. It’s been a long time since I’ve cried. It’s also been awhile since I’ve had insomnia. Maybe I’ll walk again tonight. I’m not tired, but I am getting weaker.
But, God did tell me two things:
1. “Trust me.”
2. “Read Isaiah 40.”
If I were the rain, I’d fall from Heaven right into the ocean. I’d become one with the current drifting further and further into the horizon. Suddenly, a technicolor of light would shine through me—a mix of blue and red. In this moment I’d gain clarity. I’d climb out of my world and find my way up high into the gutter of a school and drip right into the palm of the one down in despair.
It’s raining, and I am the tears.
I am awake. At 10:51 pm I turned out my lamp and turned over, yet here I am typing to you. I feel as though my life is this paradox of being always awake yet never fully awake if that makes any sense. Today, I woke up at noon in a fog and never really came out of it. I suppose I feel better now, but I shouldn’t. It’s nearly 4 in the morning. So much for getting away for the weekend. But, the air is sweet and the snow is beautiful. I just wish that God would let me sleep for once. It’s been so long. Years. He’s been a cosmic mystery to me lately that seems so far away as if I’m suddenly a single digit of years lying awake in my bunk bed peering out my window at the stars and contemplating their significance. Though I’m thinking that they’re probably too far away for me to actually travel to, there’s still a naive strand of hope in the twinkle of their collective light that puts me to sleep that night. It’s no different tonight except that I feel as though I lack that hope. Though perhaps it probably wouldn’t be all that interesting if I had Him all figured out. “He wants you to find Him,” said my mom on the car ride over. “Yeah,” I halfway sincerely replied and thought copious more moments of silence in the solitude of my heart.