IF WE ARE NOT our minds and we are not our bodies, what are we? And if we have to be one of those two, which would I choose? These are the questions assaulting me at 4:05 one recent morning, while it was still dark outside and way too early to get out of bed. But tell that to my cat.
Awake in the middle of the night is a bad place to be, unless you’re in Paris or Venice or someplace you’ve spent a lot of money getting to and so every minute counts. But in your regular house in your regular town it’s unnerving, especially if that house is in the woods and the woods contain certain wildlife you’d be unhappy to encounter. This is the case where I live. No bears, but other things with fangs and long snouts and potentially malodorous emanations that can foul your life for a week or so.
So I got up and went down to the kitchen and made some coffee and fed the cat. I rightly might have written “fed the damncat,” but I love Lurch and thus can’t curse him. He ate and went out into the night, fearless about meeting up with any of the creatures alluded to in the last paragraph. (I’ve given up trying to keep him inside, since domestication of animals is hardly different from human trafficking or slavery if you ask me.)
Mildly anxious due to the blackness enveloping my house, I grasped my cell phone and turned on a familiar source of comfort, the guided meditations of Tara Brach, a Buddhist practitioner who’s actually a Jewish woman about my age who holds meetings in Bethesda, Maryland, my old stomping grounds, thus offering not a brave leap into the unknown but more of a friendly hand-holding until dawn. But today Tara’s soothing voice didn’t cut it and my anxiety actually grew listening to her.
I turned to Garrison Keillor and the gentle folks of Lake Woebegone. It worked. He was hysterical as usual, and once again I saw the truth of the adage, “Laughter is the best medicine.” I listened to small-town stories for about 45 minutes, eventually calm enough to make breakfast. After that, I opened my computer and looked around for awhile until I came to “Only 1 in 30 Women Can Identify These 60s Male Icons. Can You?” Up for a challenge, I took the quiz and aced it. At the end of correctly answering 75 questions I was told, “You got 100%! You’re hot!”
By then it was light outside, although still ten minutes from sunrise. But I felt better. My mind had stopped producing nonstop thoughts of a recently deceased friend, an impending medical procedure and a six-hour flight across the country the day after the day after tomorrow. Instead I was busy digesting my food and well into a second cup of coffee. I considered the possibility of moving to a place where it’s never dark, or at least not for very long, like the Land of the Midnight Sun. Wherever that is.
Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid.