Insomnia Is Nothing To Lose Sleep Over

If you are currently sitting at your screen because you can’t sleep, I have some good news for you: you might not be in such a bad state as you think.

Oh, you’ll be tired and listless, all right. Up too late when you think you should be sleeping soundly and fearful of how bad you’ll feel in the morning. Worried about not sleeping and then worried about the worrying. Not a pleasant prospect.

Note that I separate insomnia – an internal wakefulness – from those nights when you can’t get to sleep because some pest is watching soccer at 2:00AM or the neighbours are hosting a drunk. What you do about the latter two circumstances is between you and the man down at the gun shop. Remember murder is not legal, but rat shot is generally not lethal.

What you do about internal insomnia is…wait for it…nothing. No warm milk, sleeping tablets, meditation tapes, essential oils…nothing. Because all these are just chemical or physical rituals – they don’t cure anything. Possibly because there is nothing to cure.

If you are awake at 1:00AM, you are awake. If it is because you are cold, or sick, or hungry, go get a blanket or an aspirin or a sandwich. Don’t expect this to be an instant cure, but at least it means you are not lying there in the dark being uncomfortable. If you own a Siamese cat don’t expect to lie there comfortably anyway. But if you are lying there, awake, make the most of the physical comfort and then let your mind be free.

It may be free to sleep or it may be free to think. If it is a nasty little mind it can think nasty little thoughts  – otherwise it can have quite a good time remembering, planning, designing, telling stories, or anything else it wishes. It will know when to switch off and sleep, but when it is awake in the dark, the rest of your body gets about 85% of the physical benefit of sleep anyway.

Think of it like your computer when you shut it down – sometimes it runs on for a bit as it finishes off programs. Don’t panic about how you’ll feel in the morning. If you haven’t given yourself a drunken hangover you’ll have at least 85% of the health you need.

Riding The Horse – Part Two – Lifting The Lid

The Business Of The Hobby Explained

The need for a hobby is felt by many in the community – they are the lucky ones amongst us. Those who have no need are generally in that position through overwork, impecuniosity, or cultural pressure.

If you have literally no time left out of a day that sees you scrabble for food, shelter, security, or health, you are a poor, unfortunate creature. If you have enough of the basic needs but cannot stop yourself grinding for more, you are a rich, unfortunate creature. If you are prohibited from seeking any pleasure outside of the grind, you are a slave. The fortunate thing about these three observations is that the poor may become rich, the rich may become wise, and the slave may become free.

In all three cases a hobby can alleviate many of the pains of life. The first person may feel harried by need – the second by greed – and the third by oppression. If these states are not addressed by fortune, the person needs an ally, and the hobby can be just that. Hobbies can be secret or public, cheap or expensive, long lasting or transient. They can be taken up with the minimum of equipment or pursued with every accessory and machine that science can make. They are truly flexible things.

Benefits of a hobby? Well, the hobbyist can always retire into the sanctum of their pursuit and place the distressing world at a distance. Their sanctum may be a place, a group, or just a series of thoughts. Hobbies are portable things, and the mind of the hobbyist can carry them into business meetings, waiting rooms, and dungeons with equal facility. It costs you nothing but attention to open the internal hobby library door, sit down at the mental desk, and review the plans for your next project. Caution – do not do it while driving.

A hobby can make you a calmer person – and in some cases a more considered one. This may be possible even in the more bellicose pursuits like martial arts. A person in control of themselves is more likely to be able to control the situation that they are in. If you have confronted problems in your hobby – and surmounted them – you are much more likely to be able to do the same with other troubles.

A hobby can lead to increased self-esteem. While self-esteem taken to the extreme makes for Idi Amin, lower levels of it are good. When you succeed in your hobby – even by a small amount – you feel better in yourself. Others may not care whether your model airplane flew and landed perfectly, but you’ll be admiring your skill for years to come…and rightly so.

A hobby can make you more observant. Very much more so…ask any scratch-builder and you’ll find that they look at everything…everywhere. Shapes and materials that escape others come under keen appraisal for use in their model building. That means they look at the whole world more sharply – a good thing. Their minds speed up.

But you get no crops without manure. There are down sides to hobbies that we will discuss in the next essay.

Achtung! – Part Four – The Mindfield

Well, so far we have explored a number of ways to be horrible. As this is not a paid column I must keep some of the better ones back – they can result in money and it would not do to let this out.

But let us now deal with doing something amazing – making people think. You may not be able to make them think well, or think good things, but with a little effort you can at least get them going.

Remember we advised that books are a good mine? Well, they are, and if you select the right ones you can do a great deal of good. Okay, you can use the mindfield to get rid of all the marginal press that you have encumbered your own shelves with, and laugh at the thought of someone eagerly unwrapping a parcel that they have surreptitiously smuggled into the house…to find that it is the Road Boards Report from 1923. Laugh a minute, that one.

But who knows – the thing might inspire the reader to look up road-building on Google, or go to the Main Roads website, or ( gasp! ) go to the library and take out an engineering volume or a biography of McAdam. You might start a career in civil engineering with your mindfield.

Hard to say these days how limited people’s knowledge of the world might be. I have talked to perfectly sane young people of 25 and found that their schooling denied them any knowledge of the most basic of facts. One chap seriously did not know who Mussolini was…The discovery of a book in a mindfield might just supply something that modern society does not. Of course if the book is actual rubbish, like the quasi-mystical things that the new-agers sell, there won’t be much good done – but we can always hope that the inadvertent reader will recognise the valuelessness of the thing and fling it out of the window into the dungheap.

Note: I have rarely ever done this. The last time I can remember deliberately binning a set of books was in the 1980’s when I discarded a series purportedly written by an author called George Hayduke. It detailed ways to get revenge upon people. These were either highly imaginative pieces of humour or rather sordid encouragements to viciousness. I was willing to accept the one aspect but not the other…