A worry is a phenomenon that thrives best at night. It grows and expands far beyond its true capacity when the lights are out, only to deflate and yet again become inferior when day breaks. An obstacle reasonably challenging during waking hours becomes a hurdle of mountainous proportions to the sleepless and only the worst outcome of anything stands a chance of becoming a thought. Strangely enough, hope and optimism seem to slumber deeply in one’s mind during bouts of insomnia, when the body and mind are refused any such grace.
I was unable to fall asleep last night. My daytime worries about: A) not being able to finish my book in time, B) my daughter and her friend being alone at 14 in rioting England and C) my husband not having put wood protection on one of the windows of our house, all became incredibly, incredibly serious. The first two worries are actually serious but the delayed window frame treatment is nothing cataclysmic. But my tired mind put the three: daughter safety vs. deadline vs. window frame, in the opposite ranking order as to what my rested mind would do. Window frame situation became extremely grim, deadline and daughter not quite so as much and got less mulled over as a result.
This erratic night time thinking is nothing new to me. My mother suffers from on-again off-again insomnia and she holds the Icelandic record for bizarre worries as a result. I am not going to provide a long list, just give you a glimpse of toasters catching fire, cancer infestation in pet’s toes, my daughter falling into a manhole, my father being thrown from a plane by someone overcome with air-rage and so on and so forth. I have on numerous occasions tried to point out to her that thinking about the worst that can happen and worrying relentlessly about it does not make it any easier when the worst actually happens. You will feel horrible no matter how horrible you felt in anticipation. It is not as if you are making installments on your future misery. But knowing this does not help much as it is not reason driving the worrying.
As I found out for myself with my window worry episode. Last night, in one version of my mind’s scenarios, the window not only fell out of the wall because of my husband’s poor maintenance but it fell on top of my cat. The cat died of course. Today I know full well that the wood in the new window would need to be subject to the elements for so long before falling out of the wall, that the cat, despite its nine lives, will no longer be here to accidentally step into its downward trajectory.
Why I did not worry more about my daughter’s safety or my deadline instead of the window I do not know. These are real worries, ones that can actually materialize. But maybe the fact that it is mostly in my hands to prevent them, has something to say. If I want it not to happen, it will not happen. If riots take off in the town my daughter is staying in, we could go to England and pick her up. If I want to meet my deadline, I can write like crazy. But then again I could go to the hardware store, pick up a wood preservative and a paint brush and get to work.
Or…since it is August I can ask for this for my birthday. Last year I got a toilet from my family so it seems appropriate I get window frame preservative and a paintbrush this time around.
One last thing. While lying in bed obsessing about my husband’s lack of handyman-ism and its horrific consequences, I looked outside and saw a star. A single star, the first star I have seen since the onset of summer. Here the nights are so bright during the summer season that stars are no more visible than during midday. It was therefore something special to behold even though it was not particularly bright or sparkling. A solitary speck of light in a light blue sky. So tiny, so simple and yet so beautiful. Nothing complicated like my mind’s window fabrication.
Maybe this star will keep me company again if I can’t sleep tonight. Despite its beauty I would prefer it watched over me dead to the world, as I know I will worry if I am lying awake. A vision of riots in Bournemouth is creeping in, followed by one in which me and my husband board a flight to England … only to be thrown off the plane by someone with severe air rage.