The Tale of Us Against the Monster: A New Understanding of Sleep
Anyone living with the Monster will tell you that sleep takes on a new meaning. Sometimes day is night and night is day. Sometimes a 24 hour period is a series of naps interrupted by The Big Bang Theory, Hawaiian Pizza, or a trip to the bathroom. Other times it’s about whispering nose to nose, holding hands, and negotiating with the furry lump that is an immoveable fat Shih Tzu laying on her back across the bed, snoring. Then there are times of waking to tears and knowing with profound certainty that we are mortal, transient things, meant to live only for an instant. In those whispered moments between sleep, we learn that most everything we believed about men and women—or men versus women—is an illusion…a sad illusion. As it turns out, we are all equal in strength and weakness, in pain and suffering, in life and death. We are the same after all.
But I do understand the need for the masks we wear. Careers sometimes demand that we are impersonal. In a world full of thieves, we hide behind our sunglasses, fend off the approach of a stranger with our cell phones, and we give very little information about ourselves to anyone we don’t know. We use masks to cover our fears and insecurities. We puff up our breasts and fan out our feathers to make ourselves bigger. We are rarely who we truly are. Only a very few see behind the many masks we wear and interchange daily. Without the masks we are raw, usually scarred to some extent with the odd wound that hasn’t quite healed. Sometimes we think our imperfect mortality makes us unattractive and frail and so painfully vulnerable, and sometimes we are right about that. But then, it all depends on who’s looking at us. When it is that person, well then, we are looking back at them, aren’t we? It is more than two people knowing each other. It has become now a meeting of souls, and a joining.
The Monster likes to tear off our protective masks, to bare us before a cynical world, and leave us broken and humiliated. However, that can only work in the presence of potential fear and shame. For two who are beyond the need for masks, where all fears have been assuaged, and all shame has been removed, the Monster can only beat his fists against the impenetrable barrier of commitment and devotion that surrounds us. If we are to be mortal, then we are mortal together. If there is to be pain, then we suffer together. If there are to be tears, then we will bathe each other in them. I must tell you that there is peace in that assurance. With peace, the spirit rests, and sleep follows. Sleep is the result of the removal of masks. Take that, Monster!