If we have but one portal into magic, it is sleep.
Mysterious and otherworldly, yet healing and rejuvenating, I’ve learned to regard sleep as both a necessity and an opportunity to learn from my subconscious self. Slumber is not always trustworthy or kind, sometimes showing us monsters and battles and taking from us those we love.
But I also find gifts: glimpses of worlds tailored, to fit our most personal definition of beauty and joy.
I’ve recently been tinkering with my sleep, assigning myself a task to work on over night, attending to ninja-train my mind, sorting out problems and finding new answers. I’ve come to realize how true this is.
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Creative endeavors reach better outcomes when submitted to Sleeping Emily for ideas and overhauls. A clunky start can become lithe and beautiful with her input, even if she is, admittedly, a little bit crazy.
She experiences bent rules of physics, weird interactions with acquaintances, and toughs out improbable problems — often involving toilet woes and tests at school. Yet, she operates with years of wisdom that can be tapped in the most unexpected ways.
There’s hardly anything magical, though, about tricking my brain into working all night. Magic is surreal and defiant — a shortcut past the restrictions of reality. But sleeping Emily can be quirky, and unexpected, and sometimes, she turns out a solution through sorcery so forbidden that it is simply something that could not have been contrived by Awake Emily.
Not long ago, I had a pressing task. A time-consuming project. A deadline. And I did not have enough time to both complete it and still enjoy my other weekend plans. I simply saw no way to get everything done.
I put Sleeping Emily on the job, and awoke with a plan. A tight schedule into which each bullet point on my list fit. Wake up early and tackle the housework first. Start running errands at high noon, sharp. Hit the baby shower, but bug out a tad early. Arrive at your appointment on time.
When I awoke, I felt empowered, rested and ready. Yet, I faced a moderate concern. It was the appointment: the highly important “thing” that the entire schedule accommodated. The source of my stress. The task I didn’t want to do.
I could not remember what that highly important thing was. No recollection. None.
I scanned email, checked my calendar, scoured my texts, searching for some clue of what my tight schedule would afford me time to do. I hit the checklist hard, knocking items off it in record time, waiting for that moment when I’d say, “Oh, I remember!”
But that moment never came. I arrived at the Very Important, Not-to-Be-Missed timeslot, with no clue of what/where/why I’d scheduled an entire day around it.
And so I spent a lovely evening with my family, feeling accomplished, if a bit worried about what I’d blown off.
Eventually, I did remember what I was supposed to do. It was not that important, a loose, self-imposed deadline at best. Completely expendable. Sleeping Emily could see that, and abolished the point of stress for me. Retrospect Emily could see it clearly as well. Awake Emily would have stressed out and plodded through the item, missing a fun evening.
Who among us couldn’t use a bit of magic? Sometimes we need look only as far as our dreams for treasure, even if it does come to us from a world in which animals talk and we can fly, and we sometimes find ourselves on the toilet at the dinner table.
Reach Overland Park mom Emily Parnell at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter:@emilyJparnell