Sometimes, I don’t sleep. Or I don’t sleep well. Or I try to go to bed at a decent hour and, somehow, my children sense this disruption in the force and try to restore equilibrium by waking up screaming multiple times. (What fun is a well-rested parent, anyway?)
Sometimes, even when it seems like I should be passed out cold and sleep deeply for many, many hours, I don’t. Even with no crying children, no 2am bathroom runs, no pressing matters weighing heavily on my mind, I sleep fitfully, waking up every hour like clockwork: 12:30, 1:30, 2:30 . . . .
And sometimes the tiredness catches up to me. I move more slowly, think more slowly, hear more slowly if I hear at all.
But the fix is often not at all what I would expect. When more sleep is impossible to find and my energy sags, my brain drags, the only thing to do is set the alarm for a little earlier than what seems reasonable. When it goes off, I sneak out of the bedroom. I pick up the clothes and shoes that I tossed outside the door the night before and change into them. I snag a swig of water on the way out the door, and try not to let it slam behind me.
Then the games begin. I chase energy by expending energy. I pretend I am Redford, gathering coins and jewels of power as I make my way down the street, weaving through pedestrians, over puddles and around litter, through crosswalks and past stairways.
I start out slow. The drag is still there. But by the end of the first mile, my legs remember what it’s like to move. They start to feel springy and light. My lungs are blowing and my heart is pumping. My reflexes snap back into place and my eyes are alert, scanning the road for danger, looking for anything interesting.
The farther I go, the more energy I have. My body, once heavy and slow, feels light, quick. My mind, also unburdened, works through the previous day’s problems like it’s no big thing.
Ah, the power of running. Magically morphing energy into more energy. Defeating the drag. Slaying both sleepy-ness and sleeplessness. Yes, both. Because five miles in the morning is sure to leave me ready to hit the sack by 10 tonight.
Not that I’ll actually get there. That would be too good to be true. And it would, in all likelihood, wake the children.