Sweet Mystery of Life

Here’s the problem, although it’s my problem, not yours. And not that much of a problem.


There are times when I have nothing to do and I consider distracting myself with something, something to read, something to watch, something to do. And mostly I don’t. Mostly I just ruminate.

And a lot of these times are at night, before bed, and I have a very specific hygiene when it comes to bed. It’s learned behavior, too, and pretty easy to understand. When people drink a lot, daily, regularly, alcoholically, they don’t fall asleep as much as lose consciousness. You know what I mean.

So when a drinker like this stops drinking, sleep can become a big issue. That’s why I use the word hygiene, in fact. That was the word the professionals used, when they talked to us about what to expect. There was a lot of talk about sleeping aids, and how tricky those can be. It was before the age of smart phones or tablets, so screen time before bed wasn’t really discussed, but the idea was. Go to bed to go to sleep. Do not pass Go. Do not read or watch. Sleep or have sex, I suppose, although sex was far, far down the line in terms of normal behavior we might or might not reestablish once we reached some sobriety.

But sleep. Sleep was important, and I took that to heart. I think at one point I tried an over-the-counter sleeping medication but mostly I did fine. I slept great, and mostly I continue to sleep very well. Too well, lately, which is disturbing but then we’ve had some situations here.

My hygiene, then, at least these days, involves getting to the point where I’m just about ready to go to sleep, then heading for the bedroom (it doesn’t hurt that my wife likes the bedroom cool and I don’t, so I make a dash for the covers anyway).

And those last hours before bed, one or several, are mostly spent just thinking. If I’m out late, then I’m going to go to bed late because I need that time to settle, even if it’s abbreviated.

I don’t necessarily think of anything in particular, and a lot of time it’s just an hour or so before bed. I turn off the computer I normally sit in front of. Nothing much happens on my phone these days, since I’ve severely limited loud and intrusive notifications, but then it usually slips into Do Not Disturb mode anyway by that time. I just sit and think.

The other night, I was thinking about mysticism, our human tendency to infer or intuit a supernatural explanation for mysteries (or what we like to think of as mysteries). I can scoff at people who pay attention to astrology, if I want, although I’d have to note that I go to church a lot. Mostly I wonder about this. I think a lot about quantum physics, and how theoretical physicists have always inferred, waiting for the math to catch up.

Anyway, I moved on and started thinking about an article I’d read, supposedly humorous but not one I found very funny. It had to do with Valentine’s Day and long romances, and I started thinking I should write something similar, except broader. I’ve been writing humor pieces about aging ever since I started writing professionally; I’ve reached a point where perspective starts to merge with reality.

Understand that I was just idly thinking before drifting off to beddy-bye. I was half-heartedly sketching out a series of...something, either blank verse or rhymes or maybe little essays or all three and more. Just idle thinking.

And at one point in this, I thought of a funny chapter title. It was inspired from a line in The Sound(s) of Silence by Paul Simon. A lot of Simon & Garfunkel lyrics pass through my head, I realize. Also a lot of Dr. Seuss. FYI.


That was it. It’s a funny title (when I finally told my wife this story, a few minutes ago, she laughed for a long time), and carries the added weight of summing up the concept of this thing I’m considering. I mulled this over for a while, made a few notes, then went off to bed. There wasn’t the faintest hint of mysticism. Sometimes I get ideas. I don’t understand where they come from, but I don’t really dwell on that. I figured I’d sleep on it, see what I thought the next day.

And the next day, as I was drinking my coffee and starting my day, my phone sent me a notification from Amazon Music. It said I might like the latest offering from Pentatonix, the a cappella group. This isn’t a bad suggestion for an impersonal algorithm, considering my connection to a cappella singing groups, although I don’t remember ever seeing a notification from that app before. Maybe I just ignore them. Maybe it’s because I just canceled my free trial of Amazon Music.

The Pentatonix song was The Sound of Silence.

You guys figure it out. Me, I have more notes to make. I take mysticism seriously from time to time. Also, it was really a funny idea.

Chuck SigarsComment