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Cracking the shell

A study in fragility

I am not a light sleeper. Each night, I descend into a sort of coma. Utterly disconnected from the real world, my body and mind detach. So total is this half-death that at its depth no alarm, no movement can rouse me. 

But it is only the body that becomes lifeless. My mind, unfettered by external stimulus, weaves vibrant, cacophanous scenes with all five senses engaged, sometimes even with extended and coherent plotlines. I have on at least one occasion awoken from squinting too hard, not because of morning light streaming in the room, but because the light in my dream world was a blinding vivid green of sunlight shining through the leaves of a rainforest canopy. I have awoken mid-conversation, the voices still swirling around my head, or with the overpowering aromas of imaginary meals filling my sinuses.

Generally, though, the transition out of the sleep-coma is far more gradual. At first, a singularity of awareness, a pinpoint of consciousness in a silent, black void. As the awareness grows, the shell is broken. First light, a vague glow without source, illuminates the darkness. Sound penetrates, initially vague murmurings, coalescing into recognizable forms. Blood and oxygen radiate through my limbs and digits, a sense of expansion like the wings of a butterfly just emerged from its coccoon.

Each morning is a rebirth, my senses too raw to accept the newness of the world. Light glares even on gloomy days; the most serene morning buzzes with a gentle roar; my skin prickles with the faintest brush. It's a fragile time, a glimmering moment when I am wholly of the sensual world, before the mundane chatter of the conscious mind kicks in, before the sheer volume of input dulls the senses, before the weight and responsibility of the day orders the mind and compels it into action. Within minutes, reality sets in, the day begins, and life marches on. Until the next night.

This Post Has One Comment
  1. This is beautiful, Sean. I have to say that I’m jealous of your sleep comas. I’m not sure when I turned into such a light sleeper, but I am generally roused several times a night due to one of several things: the gentle snoring of my handsome fiance, the not-so-gentle snoring of a smooshed-face dog from across the room, or the cat doing any number of cat-like things, such as reminding me that I forgot to lift the blind high enough on the bedroom window for her to stare out into the dark backyard at 2am. The only place I can fall into a truly deep sleep anymore is up at the cabin, where it’s pitch black and completely quiet at night and there’s not a cat to be found.

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