May 1, 2010

To not fall asleep

This blog is named in homage to my twelve-month old, for whom delaying sleep is the major objective in life. He has developed considerable strategical cunning. He won’t lie down in the pram but sit in a position that will make him fall flat on his face when sleep overpowers him. If the pain doesn’t instantly bring him back, he can trust that it’s a sight I just cannot bear and that I will try to move him into a different position, which effort will wake him up again. If he cannot keep the sitting position for weariness, he will lie sideways with his teeth hooked into the railing, so that every bump in the sidewalk will give him pain, and every curb makes him bleed from the mouth. Then, when despite all his efforts he’s down to reserve power, he will start blindly climbing over the side, hoping for an adrenaline rush, or maybe a hit on the asphalt.

I do not know why he does that. Of course, sleep is the little brother of death, but there seems to be no fear of the void involved. More of a hunger for immediate context. I guess the stream of consciousness may not be broken, since once it is, you awake with a sloppily cleaned slate and have to start stitching the narrative back together again. A year of life without the narrative to keep you full of purpose, why, that would be unconditional surrender to your instincts. That’s how all the best ideas die, when it takes too long to frame them in the emotional circumstance they were born under and you have to give them some semblance of continuity the morning after. So I’d better not fall asleep.

(The photo is by my four-year old, picture-hunting among his toys.)