Most everyone knows the rest of the words of that stanza of Robert Frost’s poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. “. . . I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” But how many of you have ever really considered the meaning of those words, or the place sleep has in your life?
Here are some other famous quotes relating to the subject:
“Sleep, that deplorable curtailment of the joy of life.”
~ Virginia Woolf
“There are twelve hours in the day, and above fifty in the night.”
~ Marie de Rabutin-Chantal
“The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.”
~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Man should forget his anger before he lies down to sleep.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
How do you feel about sleep? Do you embrace it as a necessary endeavor? Or do you reject it as a waste of time? Each of the above quotes addresses sleep differently. In the first quote, it is obvious what Virginia Woolf’s sentiments were. She saw slumber as a damper, a negative. Marie de Rabutin-Chantal viewed sleep as difficult to achieve. F. Scott Fitzgerald expressed the frustration of insomnia. Lastly, Gandhi understood the concept of a clear conscience as an enabler.
As we age, sleep for most of us, becomes more and more problematic. With that premise in mind, I believe I am a very old soul because I have never slept more than seven hours a night for as long as I can remember. In my 20s, I was a night owl, often staying up until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, after a night of drinking and dancing. Then, as I aged, the time I went to bed crept backward until it became a consistent 10:00 PM throughout most of my adult life. As a result, I often found myself awake at 4:00 or 5:00 AM, which was fine for fishing, but didn’t do much for my work performance.
I recall a co-worker, then in his 70s, who confessed that he almost never got to bed before 1:00 AM. At the time (nearly 20 years ago), I was amazed. Surely it was an aberration, I thought. That’ll never be me! But I was wrong.
These days, I find that my average bedtime is between 12:30 and 1:00 in the AM. I get between five-and-a-half and seven hours of sleep per night. Any more than that I consider a complete waste of time. I’m 72 years old, with lots on my plate, and less and less time remaining to accomplish things. If there is one of the quotes that best applies to me, I would have to say it is the one from Frost’s poem—which is interesting, because his Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening has always been my favorite poem. Perhaps there really is such a thing as karma.
How do you relate to sleep? Inquiring minds would love to know.