The purpose of this post is at the conclusion. It will need some explaining before you get to it.
i am just over a month away from turning 73. i am trying to dedicate the rest of my life to giving back with things i’ve experienced or discovered in the hope those who might come across my giving back can use it to make their efforts to live well easier.
In case you are not aware of this, i must reveal i am not formally religious. This is primarily because of formal religions’ exclusion factors, recruiting tactics, pomposity, hypocrisy, and continual insistence of trying to prove something they believe, which sounds oxymoronic to me. i consider myself spiritual, believing in a higher power which i, or any human, past, present, and future for that matter, cannot define. i do believe at the core of that higher power is the goodness in side of all of us (and recognize many people never experience their own goodness and grovel in self-protection and no empathy with others).
i must quickly add i respect everyone’s religion as long as it is not fanatic, and even envy some Christian groups, especially Lebanon’s First United Methodist Church in which i was reared and which has given so many people comfort, succor, and a ring of true friends. i sometimes enjoy going to services there as it reconnects me to my past and my parents.
And i should add that the words of Jesus Christ (as recorded by his apostles or others) strike as the closest to what i feel is right except for the exclusionary passages and the ones subjugating women.
The words below were generated by my aging creating a problem i never had growing up, and i really grew up somewhere in the last couple of years. The problem is not being able to go back to sleep. I wake in the middle of the night for many things connected to old. Then i can’t turn off my brain and start thinking of many, many things. i can’t stop thinking about whatever flies into my brain and consequently can’t go back to sleep.
My initial tactic to overcome this problem was to think of something else. Once again, i relied on the recommendations of my “coach,” JB Leftwich. In one of our many conversations in my visits back home, he mentioned he had problems sleeping and began repeating the names of people or things in his head, sort of an intelligent version of counting sheep. JB told me of being able to name all of the presidents and vice-presidents. It turned out he memorized many more lists trying to go sleep, like remembering Tennessee congressmen, etc. The Leftwich offspring can enumerate.
So i learned the presidents in order and can tell you their full names, except i can get the Harrison’s mixed up and i often, for some reason skip Warren G. Harding. I also learned the capitals of all of the states. I was going to learn the counties, and perhaps the county seats in Tennessee, but i gave that up. Too much work.
After i got good at it, repeating the memorizations lost a lot of its efficacy for going to sleep. I then tried counting my breaths, but i would always think of something else in the middle and lose count.
Then one night, i remembered a simple child’s prayer i repeated nightly for a long time in my younger days. Going over the words today, it seems a bit morbid for young boy to repeat every night. But for someone my age, it has a sensible message and resonated with me.
I tried during a couple of sleep interruptions, but it didn’t seem quite enough. After thinking about it too much to allow me to sleep. I came up with the below.
Quite frankly, how well it works is hit and miss, but either way, it makes me feel more comfortable and my mind and my body rests even if sleep doesn’t come.
i wanted to share:
Now i lay me down to sleep,
i pray the lord my soul to keep;
If i should die before i wake,
I pray the lord my soul to take.
…and i pray the lord
help me find
for the rest of my life.