To Sleep or Not to Sleep

There are people who are always anticipating trouble, and in this way they manage to enjoy many sorrows that never really happen to them. ~ Josh Billings

night owlLast night, I stumbled into bed at midnight, which is early for me.  I am a night-owl which entitles me to a burst of energy at roughly ten pm.  This burst of energy sometimes results in the creation of late night blog posts or emails to far away friends.   Sometimes, I find myself at my desk, improving a bit of computer code I need for my business.  That feels very productive, for sure, but it also means that when I finally go to bed, my head hits the pillow still running … and reluctant to stop.  Some nights I sit in a chair and play Classic Words for a while but this practice, although relaxing, keeps me up even later because I can’t bring myself to go to bed after losing a game to the (damn) computer .   The by-broduct of my night-owlism at 71 years old is the need, most days, for a late afternoon nap, a luxury my self-employed, semi-retired lifestyle allows.  Lately, in the midst of the tax season and more business commitments than usual. I haven’t been sleeping well, so I skipped my nap yesterday, hoping that I would be tired enough to fall asleep quickly at the end of my day.

Didn’t happen.   No sooner did my head hit the pillow than things-to-be-done tomorrow began spinning in my brain.   There were business tax issues to resolved with my partner. We have been business partners for 17 years and we have always resolved such issues smoothly but, of course, my head was telling me, Not this time!  I’d forgotten my password … and username … to a website crucial to our business, a situation I’d resolved with just a little effort at least a dozen times over the years … but my brain said, Not this time!  And, after a very good year, my whirling brain just couldn’t imagine where we were going to get the cash to pay our estimated taxes, not to mention what we were going to owe for this year.  Yes, having had a good year means the money is there, but my head didn’t want to hear about that. So, I remembered what Dale Carnagie said:

If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.

After running a rough cut at my tax debt and comparing it to our assets, I was able to convince my brain that we weren’t going to the poor house.   There was nothing I else I could do without talking to my business partner, so my brain agreed to shut down … and I was able to fall asleep.

This morning, I was able to resolve everything else with a fifteen minute call with my business partner.   As I hung up the phone, I remembered one of the first things I learned when I started working the 12 Steps … don’t project, the name self-help books and therapists give to predicting the future (usually negatively) instead of dealing with it when it gets here.  My first sponsor said it simply: Don’t awfulize … the outcome that happens is rarely as bad as you imagine.   Or: A good outcome is as likely as a bad.  Twenty-four years later, I still forget until, in the bright morning light streaming through my office window, I realize I lost two or three hours sleep for nothing.   Perhaps it is true that You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  Maybe the best I can do is be like Charles Schulz’s Charlie Brown:

charlie brown

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