We are here on the gulf coast of Florida – the forgotten coast it is called – as it is in northern Florida and sparsely populated. Mainly trees, miles of thoroughly majestic beach and magnificant sunrises and sunsets. A town originated here around the 1830’s as a port (Port St. Joe) as the first stop for sailors on their way to the more westerly ports of Mobile, Alabama and New Orleans..... The town thrived and the population soared to 12,000 until a ship landed here in 1841 carrying a passenger from Cuba who was infected with Yellow Fever. The disease quickly spread and those inhaibitants who did not die from the infection quickly left the city and found residence elsewhere. Then in 1844 a hurricane destroyed much fo what was left of Port St. Joe. Interesting history.... At any rate, it is a sweet little town - thoroughly beautiful, populated now mainly by dolphins, bald eagles, a voluminous number of sea shells of all types - and fantastic large shrimp and seafood.
All of that is kind of beside the point....however, as I sit here on a thoroughly rainy, windy and very cool day staring out at the waves, I see on the horizon three shrimp boats, and then a larger boat. I go off in search of the binoculars, and watch for a while. You are likely asking…
What has sleep got to do with a Shrimp Boat?!!
Seems that the smaller boats return from time to time to the ‘mothership’, offload their catch and then head back out for another boatload. They are out on the water for a long time – 24 – 36 hours or more.
Cool. Very cool. Much like the Somali pirates operate. Remembering now our shipboard pirate drills on our last cruise which was through the Indian Ocean and up into the Gulf of Oman. Scary, yet quite thrilling!
Anyway.....again, beside the point.
Of late, I have been returning again and again to the question of where it is that we go to when we sleep?’ Could it be that when the lights go out, we return to our very own Mothership’...the Light? The Source? Whatever you wish to call it. Maybe we, too, need to off-load, to fill up, and to re-energize? Every organism on earth from rats to fruit flies to microorganisms – even dolphins! - relies on sleep for its survival, yet science is still wrestling with the fundamental question: Why does sleep exist? Definitely, it seems, that our brains need some down time. Remember the last night you did not sleep well?
And another thought/question I have. Do we DIE every time we sleep? It certainly seems so if you watch someone sleep. In fact, it is downright scary! If this is so, why do we fear death so much? We should be really REALLY USED TO IT BY NOW! After all, we have certainly had enough practice!
Have you every known that you were in that fantastic in-between state of being not quite asleep – of just falling asleep (when, of course, you were in a safe place to fall asleep!)...and tried to remain in that not-here,not-there place for just a little longer?! AAAH....heaven! This process of transitioning from wakefulness to sleep is so quick that we often don’t even remember doing it! Or is it something that we DO? Or does it just HAPPEN? More questions!
Quoting the almighty Huffington Post : “The process of transitioning from waking to sleep involves the temporary dissolution of our ego or waking sense of self. Tibetan Buddhism teaches that the psycho-spiritual experience of falling asleep mimics that of dying. It's no surprise that in Western mythology, Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep, was brother to Thanatos, the god of death.”
(Says I, No wonder Savasana is called Corpse Pose!)
“If it's any consolation, the vast majority of us do not actually die in our sleep, but during waking.”
That’s too bad. I’d like not to know. But simply to wake up on the Other Side. Blended back into the Light.
Not enough space here to even begin to get into dreams....that’s for another time. Or maybe even later this evening. Meanwhile I will continue to meditate on the wee shrimp boats, their hard-working men, and their Mothership. It’s a great analogy.