Sunday, July 18, 2010

second sleep

Once upon a time a long time ago, the sun rose and the sun set and those under its auspices would sleep according to its rhythms ... "first sleep" and "second sleep." This was true in much of the world, or perhaps as much as cared to give it a name.

First sleep in medieval times was given over to exhaustion accumulated before the setting of the sun. At about midnight, people would wake, pee, do odd chores, make love or float in a kind of hypnagogic ahhh prized for its relaxation, dreaming and religious ... uh ... stuff. Lights (candles, fire pits (no chimneys), etc.) were a two-edged sword -- and often dangerous under thatched roofs -- and stubbing toes must have been common.

These days, patients sometimes complain to their doctors when a solid block of night does not mean "sleep."

How different things must have been, 24/7, within such a pace and ritual. "Primitive" is a dismissive description that might be applied, but I wonder if in those times the need for shrinks was as compelling? I'm not trying to dismiss psychology and those who benefit ... but really, if you slept better, what would be the effect on neuroses/psychoses? Literally, I wonder.

I do like the fact that the twixt-sleep-and-wakefulness was honored as a time for wider and perhaps more wonderful floating. True then, true now -- or anyway I want to say that without knowing.

Well, I just like the ripples that seem to slither and shimmy and glisten in the description, "second sleep."

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