Saturday, September 12, 2009

Living Life Out Loud

Two nights ago I wasn't really able to fall asleep. Neither could Mark. That's not really a biggie, as one of us needs to stay awake to do Stross' midnight cares. Ninety-seven percent of the time that's Mark, because I simply cannot keep my eyes open much past 10:45 p.m. Also, we both recognized early in our relationship that I'm a downright, um ... witch, if I don't get enough uninterrupted sleep. So on nights when Mark is sick or out of town, I do my best to stay awake for Stross' midnight cares before allowing myself to fall into a long stretch of recuperative rest.

Well, two nights ago I was awake with Mark as he prepared for Stross' cares at 12:40 a.m. When he headed to the boys' bathroom, I headed upstairs only to lie awake minutes later–eyes wide open–wondering if I was suffering from insomnia or a loneliness only Mark could remove.

It was neither. It was restless anxiety - likely the reason I was able to stay awake as long as I had. My mind wasn't ready to turn off a day that I'd spent reliving events in weeks past.

I'm probably not the only person who believes that anxiety is a far worse reason to lie awake than insomnia. With insomnia, you want to sleep but simply can't. And if your insomnia's not gone by the next night or so, a doctor can prescribe medication to help. I've never needed such an aid, but I've felt glad knowing it's a possibility.

With restless anxiety, however, you don't really want to sleep because some part of you feels that solving your life's problems is far more important. Yet as you lie in the dark mulling over things you're unable to address until morning, you realize you must add sleep deprivation to your list of ails; and, without a good night's sleep, you can't begin to work on the solutions you've begun to map out anyway.

Anxiety - even a mild version - is viciously circular.

That night I absolutely did not want to add sleep deprivation to my list, and I certainly did not want my thoughts to circle back to any topic I'd already spent time on during the day. So, since Mark wasn't back from helping Stross yet, I turned on our radio, hoping an audio distraction could drown out my anxious thoughts. Something far better happened: I got a message, delivered in my spiritual language of music. It came through the words of Rob Thomas' "Someday," letting me know that Mark and I were somehow sharing the same mixed up, mid-life muddle. It also let me know that we'd be fine, despite the ugly experiences of this bizarre year, because we were staying true to our vow to live through our messes together.

The music offered a promise that - even after 23 years of marriage - we could still feel the freshness of a shared beginning; and that, maybe - someday - we'd even be able to figure out what we'd survived together. Best of all, the message said we'd be better off and, here's the best part: living our lives out loud.

I love that! Living life out loud. That resonates deep within me. I've always tried to let my life speak in a way that communicates clearly to others. What better way than to live out loud? I know exactly what that means, even if I can't express it any differently than that beautiful arrangement of words. And I love that too! Getting a perfectly worded message is how I know my life - just like every child of God's - is connected to something divine. The God of the Universe found a way to speak to me, delivering words I needed to hear, right when I needed to hear them. Thank you, God. (And thank you, Rob Thomas.)

The song had just begun when I turned the radio on, and it ended as Mark entered our bedroom. I reached over to turn off the radio as the last notes played, not wanting other sounds to pollute the delightful feeling that hung in the air. I didn't want to ruin the moment by telling Mark either - not then. He needed his sleep just as I needed mine. And I was ready to sleep - a restorative, restful night of sleep that would allow me to begin a new day.

Sleep. A way to start all over again every 24 hours, bringing new ways to live out loud and to live them together with Mark. What a wonderful message. What a peaceful thought. Good news from a good God. A good night.

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