Thursday, April 30, 2015

Insomnia, Ravens, and the Qur'an

9:05 am

I'm awake. Really, I am. Can't I go back to sleep for five more minutes? Just five. That's all I need. Just five more minutes.

Minutes. Why is 'minutes' so hard to spell?

Okay, an hour would be good. An hour more of sleep. I'm up. I'm up. The whole world got up and got out today at 7:00 am. Some people got up and out earlier than that, but my crew left the house at 7:00. I got back from dropping Nick at school and went back to bed.

I should feel bad about that. I know I should, but I was so damned tired. See, I went to bed early last night.

Yes, it is a problem. I'm telling you that it's a bad night when I got to bed at eight in the evening. I sat in my recliner, barely holding onto consciousness at 8:04pm and instead of struggling through and going to bed late the way I usually do, I dragged my butt off the recliner, collected my magazine and my book and went to bed. I didn't even brush my teeth. For all my nagging Nick, you'd think I should brush my teeth like a zealot. I'm not a zealot when it comes to my own teeth. I know I should be ashamed of that. I should. I hope Nick doesn't realize that I don't brush my teeth twice a day the way I should. I don't want him to think less of me, knowing that I only brush when I go out, about once a day and when my teeth get that grotty crud on them and I can't stand myself.

I woke up at 11:15 pm last night. Three hours of sleep after going to bed exhausted at 8:00 pm and I woke up after three bleeping hours of sleep. It isn't fair.

Instead of getting up, I rolled about in bed and read. I should have gotten up. I'd have been a lot less sore this morning if I'd just gotten up for a little while. My bed is like a concrete slab. Plus, it wasn't too late to take melatonin at 11:15 when I woke up. Instead, I lolled about.

I finished reading my magazine from last year. I'm trying to get through my huge pile of old magazines that have accumulated. It's slow going. I've forgotten that what I really want to do is just read the articles that I really want to read instead of reading everything as if it's a current event. But I finished that one and set it aside to be recycled.

I'm not sure I remember a thing that I read at 11:15 last night. Isn't that sad?

Then, I picked up my library copy of 'Ravens in Winter.' It was written by a scientist, Bernd Heinrich, who spent three winters so far, often in sub-human temperatures, watching whether or not ravens share when they eat. This man found animals dead along side the road and hauled them up to his cabin to carry on his research. He went to farmers and carried off dead cows and goats and calves. He dealt with maggots, sometimes. Maggots! Dedicated much? He writes of watching ravens on Christmas day, once getting stuck there in an ice storm and missing his family celebration.

This is a story, people.

Really, I wanted to cheer last night when all of his people showed up in bad weather to help him tag the ravens so that it would be easier to track and analyze their movements. I didn't cheer. By then, it was about 12:45 in the morning and I didn't want to wake up the normal humans in the house who were actually sleeping. But I wanted to cheer. Finally, he wasn't alone in his quest.

I like this guy. He climbed a tree in a blizzard to get his data. He skipped making coffee sometimes in an attempt to alert the ravens to his presence when he woke up past dawn and they were already there. He didn't want his smoke to change the situation.

Dedicated. I love scientists, but I don't think I'd realized just how dedicated they have to be sometimes to get their data. This story is a quest, an absolute-Don-Quixote-esque quest. And I can't wait get to the end to hear his answer about why ravens share their food.

Then, at about 1:05 am, I still wasn't tired, so I switched to a more sedate read and got out the translation of the Qur'an that my friend loaned me. I've wanted to read the Qur'an for a long time and this is only part of it, the first part that children are usually taught. It's good to read, though it was hard getting through the introduction where the translator spend forty pages explaining that you can't really get the experience of the Qur'an unless you read it in the original Arabic.

I get that, I wanted tell him after the first ten pages. I really get that. But the problem is that no matter how hard I might try to learn Arabic in the next fifteen years, I would never get a sense of it the way I might be required to do in order to truly experience the Qur'an the proper way. Have you heard my French? Did you know that I told many casual acquaintances that I was in heat last summer when the temperatures were in the nineties and I thought I might carry on a bit of a conversation with them? No, it would not help for me to learn Arabic first so that I could get a better sense of the Qur'an. I just want a good translator to help me out.

The thing that strikes me most, as I read these prayers and blessings and talk of the faithful, is that Muslims are very dedicated to God, that there are many parallel messages with Christianity. The Qur'an speaks of asking forgiveness of the little children, of having faith, of counting your deeds, good and bad. The Qur'an is a beautiful, reverent, and holy book. I could be wrong, because I haven't read much of it yet, and because I have never and will never read the Qur'an in the original Arabic, but dedicated and faithful Christians should be able to relate to its message. If you traded my Bible with the Qur'an, I would pray and think of my deeds, good and bad, and work to keep the faith. Would my spiritual life really be all that different?

And that is my insomniac message for you from last night. There may be something good that comes from insomnia after all.

Thank you for listening, jules

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