Normally I’m a pretty decent sleeper. I suffer a little bit if I stay up regularly past one or two in the morning, but otherwise all I really need is my 6-8 hours and I’m good to go. I personally like to go to bed a bit earlier than most and get up at what most call a ridiculous hour, 5-5:30 in the morning. I do my best stuff in the mornings, best work, best thinking etc. In the vernacular, I’m a morning person.
Sleep is one of those constants that really, everyone and thing needs. For cats, dogs and people it’s sleep whereas for plants and bugs you might just call it rest but in both cases it achieves more or less the same end. Hence, it makes a certain amount of sense to me that disrupted and/or abnormal sleep patterns can typically be sourced back to something actual for the subject. Be it depression and drastically extended sleep patterns or physical illness and shortened sleep patterns, or even something environmental like being a hotter locale than you normally are and waking up in the middle of the night to urinate because you’re drinking so much water.
At the end of the day however, sleep is constant and some kind of change to what is normal for you usually means that there is something wrong or there’s been a major change to what is ‘normal’ for you.
Sleep is also something that Pagans and Heathens are often involved with in one way or another. For some dream reading and astral projection, for others trances and meditation; I’d be hard pressed to find a Pagan or Heathen path that doesn’t in some way utilize sleep or near sleep states at one stage or another. Whether this is because sleep/sleeping is such a fundamental part to human physiology or because of the altered state of awareness is beyond my ability to say.
What I am prepared to say, however, is that much like when you find yourself being angry all the time or out and out depressed being unable to sleep properly, for whatever reason, can and probably will have negative affects on your praxis – it goes without saying that it will have a negative affect on your everyday life too. This is the first thing I write since I’ve come to Costa Rica for the simple reason that I’m not sleeping well. Which sounds like both an innocuous and pathetic thing to say, which in some regards it is but this is one of those times where knowing something intellectually in no way lessens the reality or experiencing it. Nor the shock when something catches you off guard, no matter how well adjusted you might be.
There were lots of things that I knew, intellectually, before I came here but there was no mention at all about the total sense of dislocation that can be experienced here. I say can because while I am certainly experiencing it, I don’t know whether any of the other volunteers did when they first came here. It’s a feeling somewhere between being on the wrong side of a one way window and wondering whether you’re doing something wrong that everyone else go right on the first go around. Even that doesn’t really express acceptably, to me at least, the feeling.
I came to Costa Rica with no expectations about Costa Rica itself, bits of information that were factual, but no personal expectations about Costa Rica. I did think however, and rather foolishly I might add, that I would be able to pursue my own interests for the majority of the time and that my responsibilities with the learning centre would be at most a two-day a week thing. However having only been here a few days I highly doubt that even if everything had been ideal that I would be doing everything as I planned to.
Thus far I have not failed to fall asleep really early in the evening, though after dinner, nor have I failed to wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning. Nor, perhaps most irritatingly, have I failed to lie awake at various stages feeling all kinds of fear – I guess fear is the best word for it. Fear about being here for three months, fear about knowing that I’ll in all likelihood be in Japan for a year practically a month after I get home from Costa Rica, fear about so many things that it scares me simply having that many things to be scared of.
Inevitably I cannot help but compare myself to others in ways that are certifiably stupid. However what those inevitable comparisons do, or by now did, was remind me that while it is true that lots of people have done what I am doing now and even more besides, there are just as many people who are like me and doing it for the first time. Chances are this wont get me back to what used to be my normal sleeping cycle, but it will almost certainly help me adjust to my new normal a bit better.
I am prepared to admit that being tired all the time for the first few days here has freaked me out more than it really should. In some ways I see those hours I spent sleeping outside my ‘normal’ schedule as having been wasted on extraneous sleep instead of spent usefully writing or practicing Spanish or working out or working with my runes.