I had no idea what a precious commodity sleep would become. Of course, I have had trouble sleeping for years and years what with extended bouts of insomnia and later and more recently that stuff with sleep apnea. But youth conquers all. Sure I had slept poorly but I had the energy to get through my days, relatively a-ok except of course for depression, daily doses of existential angst, and incessant rage.
But now at 61 things have changed. I don’t have the angst and rage as much any more, mostly because I am too tired to have them. At one time those things were a source of energy; nothing like being constantly pissed off to keep a fellow going. But now while being pissed off can give me an energy jolt it tends to deplete the overall energy supply, which is in pretty short supply.
At the club I asked the old guys about what they have heard about sleep and the need for it. I am still considered, in that group, a youngish guy. One guy, who just hit 80, says his doctor told him that 10 hours sleep a day was acceptable for a guy his age. But he’s having trouble getting it. His wife has sleep apnea and he is looking for another kind of bed—maybe the tempur-pedic like Carol and I have—or maybe that one with the numbers that inflates to meet a person’s particular sleep needs.
I told him that so far I like the tempur-pedic but because you sort of sink down into the foam, you don’t roll over as easily at night. Sometimes I get stuck in one place too long and wake up with my right elbow killing me, or my left elbow, or sometimes my right knee. And last night, I swear and be damned, but I felt an ache in my right big toe. When I was young I didn’t have these joint ache and pain problems, the result of screwed up joints with arthritis setting in.
Last week I told my students that they should all buy excellent beds because sleep is a precious commodity and should not be taken for granted. Get rid of those broken backed things and make sure your parents buy you a bed worth at least a 1000, and if they couldn’t afford that, they should just buy a firm futon and sleep on the floor for sufficient support. And in a related joint issue, I also told the young men to cherish their erections because these too are a precious commodity and not to be taken for granted. And I told them too that the secret to a youthful appearance is good skin and that they should wear sun screen every damn day. I usually conclude this mini-lecture by saying I am telling them all this because I don’t want them to be among the youth upon which, as GB Shaw put it, youth is wasted.
I am usually able to command their attention when I talk in this vein, though sometimes they look sort of stunned and sit their slack jawed with their mouths hanging open.
What the hell. You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.