Had a dream last night that I was in a store buying things to go camping. I don’t like camping, actually, so I will take this as a metaphor for starting out on some kind of intellectual or spiritual adventure. Earlier, I had another dream in which a little girl gave me a device she had made, which she called Danny Ray’s Magic Ray. It was constructed like a pair of glasses without the bows — you had to hold it up to your face with your hand — and consisted of, on the left side, beads and wire bent into circles and swirls; this was the “antenna.” On the right there was simply a circle of wire through which one looked at the world, turning it “magic.” No lens or anything, just a bit of wire to frame the view. I take this to suggest that we need to pick up the world’s signals and that ultimately we make the world by the way(s) in which we approach it. Not a bad insight to have if you are setting out on a solo “camping” trip. What did Theodore Roethke say? “I am a perpetual beginner.”
Slept badly last night. Actually, didn’t sleep much at all.. Drank an espresso in the late afternoon and it kept me up until nearly four this morning. It didn’t help that the clock in the St. Joseph’s bell tower tolls on the quarter hour. The bell itself is not robust — not the big French casting one would imagine given the history of the church. Instead, I imagine one of those large Chinese gongs with a knob in the center and some kind of Soviet-era mechanical device that brings a hammer down on it. To make it even more difficult for the sleeper, sometimes the bell tolls once, sometimes twice and occasionally three times at each quarter hour, without apparent pattern. The first couple of nights I was here, jet-lagged, I thought the hour got three bells, the half hour two and the quarters one each, but that is not the case I discovered last night. Like so many things here, the order, if there is an order, is not apparent, appearing random, capricious.
I wonder what it would be like to be one of those people who sleep soundly virtually every night of their lives. I never have, not since I was a kid. Last night, though, I slept deeply & almost continuously. The extent to which sleep, or my waking relationship to sleep, has directed the currents of my life is extensive. When I think of my childhood, for instance, I often think of lying awake, sometimes in fear of night noises, sometimes listing to rock & roll on a tiny transistor radio under my pillow. Nine volt batteries were expensive and an eleven year old boy needed to hoard their power, deciding on a particular night whether to sip or binge.