Night time River Cruise, Saranac River 6x12

Night time River Cruise, Saranac River 6x12
Night Time River Cruise, Saranac River 6x12View at Strand Center for the Arts Plattsburgh, NY

Thursday, February 26, 2015

To Sleep, Perchance…

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep. Sir, I am vexed.

Bear with my weakness. My old brain is troubled.

Be not disturbed with my infirmity.

If you be pleased, retire into my cell

And there repose. A turn or two I’ll walk

To still my beating mind.

Prospero, The Tempest, Will Shakespeare

There was an interesting article in the New York Times Sunday Review on the benefit of sleep about a year ago. The illustration was what caught my eye: a layered cutaway of the head with little cleaner people sweeping the detritus of the day out of the brain.

The article instigated two thoughts. First, the illustration was telling the story well enough to compel reading about sleep. It made me wonder how I could have made that idea work and then about how paintings should work. It also made me consider the value of sleep.

Murder of Crows, Heaven Hill  12x18 pastel
First thought, a painting can tell a story, one story is usually best, something that draws the viewer in, instigates involvement by the viewer with the piece. A successful painting will provoke emotion, resonance, revere, annoyance. One of my paintings "Murder of Crows" was viewed by someone who said it annoyed him because it reminded him of shoveling snow. That kind of reaction is fascinating. Another series of paintings when viewed in exhibition provoked the feeling of being swirled around in the same space. One piece had a viewer comment on feeling the wind.

The article was questioning why we, as human beings, need sleep in spite of the fact that it would have seemed detrimental for our survival to be asleep when evolving in the savanna. The writer went in one direction explaining how sleep clears out accumulations of chemicals made during the day while using the awake brain. These chemicals, if left lying around in our heads, could trigger dementia and other aged brain issues. How, perhaps there is something that could be taken to alleviate the need for sleep - in spite of the fact that if sleep is what is beneficial for the brain, that there needs to be some pharmaceutical that could do the same thing. Shades of 5 Hour Energy ughh.

The article did not even come close to the idea of an afternoon nap or a brief walk to clean up some of the days accumulations. Did not recommend more than in passing, actual sleep really being a good idea for your health.

So I will. Not that I practice what I preach in any consistent way. A cat nap in the afternoon will often allow me to complete that insane to-do list I conjure for myself everyday. An afternoon nap turns tired children into charming, lovely creatures for the duration of a day so why not adults, who surely would appreciate it.

As for sleep at night, it is hardly recommended to look at emails just prior to heading to bed nor tackle the pile of bills or other bookwork. That will usually defeat the whole purpose of slipping into darkness and quiet of the wee hours.

Contemplation 20x16 pastel
Sleep, if one gets enough, is where some images appear, stories begin and creativity is renewed. Dreams that are vaguely remembered color the next day. Whether those peculiar, worrisome sorts or the nebulous, colored ideas that arrive after all those little guys have swept out the junk from yesterday, that is the plus of enough sleep in the personal equation.

Not enough sleep and things seem to move too slowly. I become convinced I am unable to achieve what needs to be done and somehow not quite enough umphh is left for the effort needed to actually create.

I do wish for more time in the day, more energy for the creativity. I need to resign myself to more creativity initiated with less waking time.

Methinks Master Will was on to something.

"To sleep perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub, 

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause. There’s the respect

That makes calamity of so long life."

Hamlet, Will Shakespeare