*hums melody of the infamous Faithless song*
It’s true. Sleep’s been evading me. I’m tired 24/7 but it takes me hours to fall asleep at night. Hours!
And for the first time in the history of my existence, I’m not exactly sure what the root of my sleeplessness is. It can usually be tied to a specific future event I may be nervous about or traced back to an unsettling past happening that leaves me ruminating for hours on end, making it impossible to fall asleep. When it first started happening about two weeks ago, I thought I was stressed out about the upcoming moving-my-horse-to-a-new-barn day (yes, I’m a horse girl), which I incidentally was. BUT contrarily to what I was hoping would happen, sleep didn’t come back to me once my four-legged* friend had arrived at his new home safe and sound.
I then figured that the reason for my recurring re-enactment of a line from a once popular song must be a more complex one. So what could it be?
Let me make a non-exhaustive list of some of the things that are on my mind these days, in no particular order and in addition to the collection of worries I carry around by default:
- Climate change and the constant sense of doom it entails
- Climate change denial
- A terrifying abundance of unfit political leaders across the globe
- Nuclear weapons
- The combination of unfit political leaders and nuclear weapons
- Major violations of human rights
Reading up on the latest world news usually makes me feel worried. A lot of them are overwhelming and scary, particularly because there’s no way to fool myself into believing they’re not true (given that I usually stay away from fake news…🤷🏼♀️). Sometimes I wish I was a kid again, pretending that things are happening far away from here and therefore none of my concern (which is what the grownups used to tell me whenever I got too scared about something I had seen on the news). Except that it does concern me and always has, even back when I was too young to understand what was going on. I don’t want to carry the burden of causing (human) life as we know it to end on this planet, nor do I want to live in a world ruled by racist misogynists**.
I believe that each of us earthlings carries a part of the responsibility to make this world a better place or to at least not f*ck it up for the ones that come after us.
Thinking about this responsibility combined with the awareness that other people’s actions are out of my control freaks me out big time. I can try to be a better person, be kind to others, vote, use public transportation instead of my car, cut down on plastic consumption and stay away from fast fashion but in the end I can only control my own actions. And this lack of control, this feeling of being at the mercy of the universe and the entirety of Earth’s population, makes me feel small and unimportant and, on top of that, incredibly powerless. I often feel defeated and hopeless when confronted with the gravity of the situation and I can’t help but wonder if my proportionally tiny efforts even make any difference at all. [→ Ducks (or How to Save the Planet)]
All of this dread obviously adds to the already existing daily challenges (however small they may seem) of life which consist in going to work, paying bills, checking in with friends and family, getting food, making time for self-care and trying to stay sane and healthy throughout all of it.
As if life itself wasn’t already difficult enough, the impending end of the world as we know it adds some more stress for everyone that isn’t completely unaffected by what’s going on in the world. Our awareness that life’s short and knowing that we’re supposed to make the most of it while we still can is accentuated by the possibility of an apocalyptic event happening sometime in the (hopefully not-so-near) future.
When pondering this, I can’t help getting a sense of deja vu: when I was a kid, there was this rumour going around that on a given day (I don’t remember the exact date), aliens*** were coming to Earth and abducting and/or killing us all and therefore life as we knew it was going to change (or cease?) forever. It was supposed to happen during nighttime and on that day, a friend and I were preparing for it after school by drawing pictures of aliens and talking about what was most likely to happen . As you may have guessed, the alien apocalypse didn’t happen but I remember being ridiculously scared and unsure whether I should believe my mom’s attempt to explain that aliens didn’t exist (I mean, how did she know?!).
So I guess what I’m trying to say − I got a bit carried away by the alien story − is that my inability to fall asleep at night may not have a particular reason but is most likely the result of my brain not being able to shut off at night. Instead of putting all the worries on hold until the next morning (not worrying at all would obviously be the better option), my brain decides that an idle moment, such as the one that usually occurs once I get into bed at night, is the perfect moment to put a spotlight on them.
No better time to save the world than right before heading off to sleep, am I right?!
Needless to say I haven’t come up with a strategy to save the world…YET.
But fear not, I’m sure there are many more sleepless nights to come..!****
[Picture from Gemma Correll‘s book The Worrier’s Guide To Life]
* Yes, horses generally have four legs (unlike some unicorns, as you can find out in one of my previous posts).
** I purposely left out all of their other “qualities”.
*** It was the 90s and aliens were very in at the time! 👽
**** Please don’t expect me to actually save the world, I don’t think I’ll be able to handle the pressure…🤦🏻♀️