We all know sleep is important, but I’ve always been a bit of a ‘night owl’, never one for following the early to bed, early to rise mantra. But all those hours spent sitting in a tree in the forest can take their toll.. (I complained to my doctor about my nocturnal struggles, but he didn’t give two hoots). Like all neurotics I worry about my health and the long-term effects of all the lost sleep, but in the immortal words of Popeye, ‘I yam what I yam’, and accept that not all brains are wired the same way.
Many notable figures from history burned the midnight oil, while others swore by an early start, rising with the larks and achieving greatness while the world still drooled on its collective pillow. It’s a question of balance I suspect, finding what works without causing chaos and disaster for yourself and those around you. If you’re an airline pilot or a surgeon, starting your working day groggy, sleep-deprived and ‘out of sorts’ can have some major repercussions. Whereas if you are tasked with guarding the Mesopotamian spoon collection at the national museum for ancient cutlery, maybe not so much.
I seem to exist in a state of permanent conflict, the ‘angels of my better nature’ locked in perpetual combat with my inner demons. Yesterday was a classic example – walked for over an hour, did some exercises at an ‘outdoor gym’ and a few more sets when I got home. Felt a definite glow.. The halo soon began to slip however, and by the time I finally collapsed into bed around two am, I’d consumed a fair quantity of chocolate, beer, crisps and a couple of rather strong vodkas for a nightcap. Doh! As Homer Simpson so eloquently puts it.
It is oft quoted that the road to hell is paved with good intentions – we make all those new year resolutions, join gyms, empty the snack cupboard and promise booze-free days and early nights. Inevitably the gym shoes see less and less action, the snack cupboard mysteriously fills up again and we rail against our own hopelessness and ill-discipline, over a stiff drink. Judging by the vast number of self-help books that are published annually, our multitude of flaws and foibles are a rich potential source of income for anyone with a half-baked theory, snappy title and a lot of clever marketing. My own little library of personal growth has certainly grown, and now occupies most of the east wing of our home. Whether these optimistic tomes have made the slightest difference remains to be seen. Maybe we should simply resign ourselves to the many imperfections that make us human. Aim to live a good life but give up on the pointless quest for perfection, whether it’s ideal sleep patterns, the language mastery of a Nabokov or a washboard stomach. I saw a neat phrase somewhere that seemed to resonate – constructive imperfectionism. Far better than destructive perfectionism.
I say live well, do your very best, but accept that perfection is a phantom and, like angels and demons, best filed under fairy tales.
Copyright J.Lennick 2015 All rights reserved.
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