An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

My Photo
Location: Philippines

Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

16 October 2009

To bed, to bed

The thought of tackling Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past has always been intimidating. Just seeing the entire work in six volumes lined up in my bookshelf, in its own matching case, is enough to make me think of it as the reading project of a lifetime. But once I picked up the first volume, “Swann’s Way,” I immediately took to it, and from then onwards, Proust has become my bosom buddy.

That’s because he opened the entire work with memories of falling asleep.

Falling asleep is my favorite activity of the day. Not the sleeping itself, which I do not have much memories of, but the delicious moment of surrendering conscious thought into something dreamy and strange. Not, too, just the usual falling asleep after a long, hard day, but the luxurious falling asleep of one who has the privilege of time, like a princess who can linger in her pillows and let her mind swim to and fro in a thick, dark, warm liquid, not having to care about the state of her kingdom, because she is a princess and not a king.

Of course, Proust had it differently. He was sickly and delicate, and he probably spent long stretches of time in bed out of necessity rather than luxury, but the experience of falling asleep, that moment where the mind is suspended and sort of just goes about slowly in gloopy semi-darkness, is divine, regardless of whether one is a princess, a sickly aristocrat, or me.

I would often spend hours in the office, doing things that I have to do, all in anticipation of going home, getting into bed, and falling asleep. I would spend hours on a short story or a paper, telling myself that my reward for finishing the work would be to let myself fall asleep. Over a year ago, when I was suffering from a mood disorder that had depression-like symptoms, I would let myself fall asleep over and over again, all day. I would wake up after an hour just to make myself fall asleep again. Now that I have largely recovered from that condition, though, and have a nine-to-five job, I don’t sleep so much anymore, but I always look forward to the moment of falling asleep everyday at the end of the day.

What do I get out of it? It could be a million things. Aside from feeling good at knowing that I do have the luxury of time to linger in this moment of falling asleep, it also helps me to remember things, important things that I have already forgotten for a long time. It gives me images and aromas that eventually end up as details in some of my stories. But perhaps, most importantly, it teaches me the importance of surrendering to things that are beyond my control -- the night, the biological need to shut down for the day – and realize that there are other things I can wield my power over. Perhaps this is why Proust was still able to write his six-volume novel despite his physical weaknesses. I'm no Proust, but I can also fight battles of my own choosing.


Post a Comment

<< Home