Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Why Sleep?

I'm not sure where I first heard about modafinil AKA provigil. Maybe that one piece in Esquire or Wired or wherever where the author used it for three days straight, maybe on tech blogs as they raved about its medicinal prowess. Doesn't matter. The thing that matters is my reaction to it, this medicine that supplanted sleep:

"Wonderful. How do I get some?"

I don't doubt meth-heads say the same thing. The notion of a life always awake holds that kind of appeal. But still: wonderful. Because, when you look at sleep from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it makes no freaking sense. Picture it handed to the first men: "Right, folks, are you ready to breed and propagate until we dominate the entire world? Me too! We don't have stories and songs yet, but damned right we will in a few generations! In the meantime, let's all hunker down and leave ourselves defenseless for up to eight hours each night in a seething cauldron of nocturnal predators!"

That's not to say sleep is without its pluses. Sleep is defined, if my entry-level psych classes told the truth, by how easy it is to wake from. Evolution or God or the God of Evolution or Mr. Mxyzptlk conspired to make us, as a general species, light sleepers. So at least we'll wake with a start at the first hint of a sabertoothed tiger in the bearskin tent. And science tells us dreams could do all manner of important things.

And yet I prefer to stay awake.

I could blame the night schedule at my last location, that ever-ulcerating pustule from which I'm not certain I ever did escape. I could blame coffee itself, which I swill like wine laced with winning lottery tickets. I could even blame the Internet, which offers exotic delights and information errata in such volumes that I'd be insane to wander off in search of something as simple and stupid as rest.

But I blame me. Me thinking up stories in my head on the top bunk in 1994, me unable to stop reading in 1999, me hopped up on NoDoz and writing a theology paper I don't agree with but know will net good grades in 2006, me in a robot body and composing screeds against the alien overlords in 3012, me me me me me me me. There's just so much stuff to do at night. Hell, my favorite radio program (yes, those still exist) did a show about it. It's dark out, so you can play games like Hide and Go Seek or Black Panther super easily. Late-night eateries and bars are still open, so you can reminisce with friends while eating pie or swilling beer. And there's always time for a good old fashioned slinger.

Why sleep? Dreams? I dream when I'm awake. How do you get through eight hours with five customers?

 BY RIOTING! This fellow with the spear screams. RIOT LIKE CRAZY! RIOT LIKE YOU HAVE SPEARS! But I don't have spears, random Chinese drawing guy. I don't even have a spear. I have a couple swords, but I'm pretty sure rioting with those would just get me tazed.
Oh!...ohhh, he's the riot police, huh. That makes him less sympathetic and more threatening. Rather like the fellows on the back of this postcard. I'd like to claim my American defiance would stand tall in the face of their Chinese wrath, but then, I haven't yet been in a position to pit my gumption against that of several men with sticks, guns, and riot shields.

So Lisa is officially more badass than me. Well done, Lisa. Well done. Clearly ultimate frisbee is the world's sport, and love makes the world go round.

Yeah, that's right, I just busted out a Powerpuff Girls reference on this blog, big whoop, wanna fight about it?

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