Four Lessons to Freedom

hermitIt’s 7:30 am. I have just gotten off the metro and stumble across the main train station. I am riding a mild wave of energy. It is going to disappear soon.

I have had no sleep. Well, virtually none. I slept perhaps an hour or so in scattered minutes which attacked like rebel bands of insomnia snipers. I lay in bed all night, occasionally staring at those mocking red numbers on my alarm clock. The rest of the time I just let out a series of sighs, muttered curses, and groans.

It seems that my brain works against me most effectively the second my head hits the pillow. It works against me in many ways. Here are all the problems in your life. Let’s overthink tomorrow’s lesson. Are you healthy? 

There are dozens more. I’m not telling you anything you haven’t experienced and I’m sure your brain has its own version of these torturous games.

Ironically, this often happens when I have to wake up early. And why not? My brain would have no fun if I could sleep late. What’s the use of brain-induced insomnia then?

Worse still, I have four lessons today and teach from 8:15-17:15. As I stumble through the early morning gray, a day that has not even started yet seems endless.

Lesson I

I get an energy kick from the lesson, but it’s not going to last. I can’t hear well and my fingers are shaky. My little deposit of energy is nearly gone by the end of the lesson, and as a result I have used incorrect grammar twice and called students by the wrong names at least three times.

They might think I am insane.

Afterwards, I escape to my office where I hope that a ton of paperwork will keep me awake. I am wrong and must stand while working to avoid falling asleep on my keyboard

Lesson II

This is a tough group in the most positive way: they are attentive, curious, and hardworking. While I am usually excited about the class, today I would throw a bag of kittens under an oncoming bus for them to collectively boycott my lesson.

They don’t.

But they do have several dozen questions about their homework and a debate on answers. I sit back and, in what will be my last lucid thought today, assign groups to take positions and find answers. They all duke it out and I watch and nod and pray that they will sort it out.

They do.

I have begun a journey into the hidden, disturbed realms of my mind in order to keep from falling asleep. For that reason, my spirit animal makes his first appearance. I can’t remember his name, but he is a hermit crab.

Lesson III

Class III is preceded by an impromptu office birthday party that on one hand highlights my inability to have a normal conversation today, but on the other hand injects me with a cake of pure sugar and a bolt of energy.

Two students show up to this lesson, but they are both friendly and communicative people. Today they are lifesavers. I sit down and we have a good lesson which brings up lots of interesting vocabulary that I misspell with an almost embarrassing consistency. We talk about sleep and I could strangle one of these students when he mentions that he slept until noon today. However, instead of any of that I suddenly shout, “Hermes! My spirit hermit crab is Hermes!”

It’s interesting to see the facial expressions of those actively questioning your sanity. Class ends before any further embarrassment can ensue. As I leave the classroom, I mention in the coolest offhanded manner to Hermes that I would do anything to have a shell like his.

There is no response.

Lesson IV

Lesson the last. When the realization sets in that I can go home after this class, I cry a little. OK, a lot. If something does anything to get in the way of me going straight home, I will commit murder.

This is one of my favorite classes, they are active and energetic, and I draw a little energy off of them. After that energy depletes (about sixty minutes into a ninety minute lesson), I am almost certain that I am going to die.

By the end it’s clear my brain isn’t working how it usually does and even the students are eyeballing me. Of course this could be a sleep-deprived hallucination, and one of several I have had today. “It’s OK,” Hermes whispers; he is perched on my shoulder reviewing my spelling on the board. “Soon we go home,” he says, the distant sounds of the ocean wishing and shooing in his shell. Then he asks: “What are you cooking?”

I doze off on the tram home until I force myself to stand. I count down the minutes of the 45-minute commute and the climb up the steps to my flat has never taken longer. Of course this could be because I sleep walk past my floor.

I eat only out of desperate hunger and get into bed at 8:30. My brain doesn’t make the mistake of turning on tonight and I swear that as I doze off in utter euphoria, a small voice whispers good night amid the sounds of waves hitting a beach.

  1. #1 by greg galeone on November 19, 2015 - 9:33 pm

    That was tiring.

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