Middle of the Night

22 Feb

The time between midnight and 2 AM has a very special quality. I like to call it a time of remembering rather than a period of sleeplessness. I will wake from a sound sleep with the knowledge that there is another task that must be completed NOW. Did I research the change in Word that I will need for class tomorrow? Did I locate the copy of that form I need to submit? Did I finish writing that midterm exam? Did I set the correct dates (especially the correct year) in the online testing environment so students can take that exam when promised? When is that doctor’s appointment? The list of tasks is always different so I can’t really call it a recurring nightmare, but it has the same qualities. It replays in my head until I get up.

Are my days really so busy that I can’t complete all of the tasks or do the priorities for certain tasks change in my dreams? If I verify just one date, find just one document or just start one more to do list, I can go back to sleep in peace. If I don’t, I’ll toss and turn until it is time to get up and start my day. Then I may be too tired to remember what kept me awake. Those undone items will come back to haunt me another night.

I’d like to think this will change when I retire. Surely I will have fewer items on that to do list to remember. I know at 1st there will be lots more things like sorting, packing, painting, selling, buying and moving. Getting things done on both ends of the move will be a hectic time but I’ve done it all before. There will be new items like signing up for more parts of Medicare and adding new insurance but those decisions will be made in a few short months.

If I don’t have the worries of a full time job, what else will I have in the middle of the night to remember? Will questioning how long a leftover has been in the refrigerator really become that important? I certainly hope not! Will this be something that I will start to miss in the months ahead? If the sense of urgency passes, will I feel unfulfilled? The cats remind me there are other very good reasons for being awake at this time. They are always happy to help me find their food bowl and then if I pet them, they will purr me back to sleep. Nothing can be more important than that.

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2 Responses to “Middle of the Night”

  1. gramajan February 22, 2012 at 9:25 AM #

    I don’t think the brain-nagging in the middle of the night is going to go away with retirement. Mine got worse–maybe because I was getting more sleep, so wasn’t exhausted enough to ignore it. Or perhaps it was because I can spend more time writing now, and the middle-of-the-night alarms may signal a story idea or commentary. I suspect you, like me, are the sort of person who will assign yourself a load of tasks, even if there’s no outside entity to do so.

    My solution has been to keep writing materials by the bed. If a nagging worry strikes me, or my subconscious finally yields some insight into the story I’ve been working on, I can quickly write it down. That usually tones down the alarm enough to let me go back to sleep.

  2. compterteach February 23, 2012 at 8:18 PM #

    I tried the notepad by the bed years ago but I quickly discovered that I couldn’t write fast enough to get my ideas down or that I wasn’t really that awake and couldn’t read what I had written when it was finally morning. Now if I really have a good idea, I turn on the computer and type up the basics before the thoughts escape.

    You are correct that I might very well like that time to write but I’d really would rather sleep in until 4 and then write for 2 – 3 hrs before breakfast. The coffee pot makes more sense than it might at 2 if I think I’ll go back to bed. I will have lots of tasks in my retirement days but I do hope that I let go of deadlines. I tell students that I am date challenged and I don’t plan to fix that!

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