I just awoke from a deep sleep, overwhelmed by panic. My body lifted itself up as I gasped for air. The nightmare involved my canine companion being locked inside my vehicle en route for the Inside Passage and I arriving somehow too late to board the ferry, car keys in hand, Kota trapped for however long it would take me to fly to an Alaskan destination to reunite with and rescue him.
It doesn’t matter that it was actually logistically impossible for my car to be on the ferry with the keys safely stowed in my hand or that my mind pieced this together briefly after I woke up. The human mind, mine at least, is not a reasonable place, and this reasoning did little to settle the visceral feeling that had taken hold. A subconscious die had been cast.
I spent a few minutes fighting against my body’s insistence on returning to sleep, for I could feel such panic in the racing of my heart and ominous, desperate thoughts hell-bent on overwhelming my psyche that I decided to wrangle the darkness with alertness before slipping back into the dark recesses of my subconscious.
The only two other occasions I can recall waking in the night from an utterance of my own involved laughter. Only one of these moments can I remember—high atop mount Kilimanjaro in a tiny cabin bed beside my sister, who assumed I was awake and proceeded to carry on a one-sided conversation unwittingly for a few minutes before realizing I was laughing in my sleep.
At the moment, the only other beingswith which to attempt a conversation in the cool Arizona night is a hooting Great-horned Owl across the way or the screeching immature Great-horned lurking somewhere nearby but whose call is far too intimidating and unnerving for me to even muster a word or phrase in its general direction.
I am no dream analyst, but I can sense a deep desperation in the depths with which I am battling. I have a long history of struggling with the darkness in pursuit of a good night’s rest. I spent many hours as a child tallying up the number of hours I could attain if I fell asleep at 1, 2, or 3am, fear and panic rising with each passing hour at the imminent fatigue I would feel the next day, emotions that rarely assisted in calming my mind for the onset of sleep.
This early morning, I prefer to sit and breathe in the darkness rather than fear it, inhale deeply the wisdom and power of the earth, the air that touches my skin, the calming, rhythmic hooting of thousands of years of evolution a reminder that this too will pass. Sleep will find me when I am ready. There is life pulsing, and I am taking part in my own small way.
This too shall pass.