I’ve always marveled at people who are able to meditate. No matter how hard I try, my mind won’t be stilled. Any attempt to clear it only diverts the images swirling about me into different forms taking on new directions as if they were pieces caught in the eye of a tornado. Every night, I repeat the same pattern over and over.  No matter when I have fallen asleep, I awaken about 2 am and am kept awake by my thoughts. At times, these are things that worry me. A fight with one of my daughters, a mother’s action that I should have refrained from, guilt.

Last night, free of worry about my children, my mind still could not rest. Like a river  rushing to the sea, my wonderings poured from me. I always pray in these times, not for sleep but for others. May the poor refugees in Syria find peace and hope. May those in Yemen be fed. May Covid be over soon. The list never ends. But just as a rushing river slows into small streams which become trickling tributaries, the movement continues. Other things fill the space. I cannot stop them.

What good are my prayers I ask? Does God truly only answer if he gets enough prayers over an issue? Can He not see all that is happening and take action without prodding from a mere human? And then what of the character in the series I am watching on Netflix, The Outlander. Will Claire return to Jaime, and will he still love her if she does? And then when she does, how can she leave her daughter?  Will she be another Anna Karenina who sought love over her children? I have never known a love that could surpass the love I have for my children, but if I did, would I return to him?  Should Claire? Why doesn’t her daughter accompany her? I critique every move through a writer’s perspective- aligning the story with reality, and even if it doesn’t quite align, could I ever write such a piece? If I wrote something which kept people awake at night, I would feel I had succeeded.

So then, of course, it is only expected that my characters, Johnny and Evie will appear. Is their love as strong, as compelling as the love between Claire and Jamie? Will I ever be able to write such a novel, or to create an entire book around a house as Ann Patchett has done in The Dutch House? Should her ending have been different? What can I learn from these writers?

The pictures of my day sift in and out of focus as I travel from contemplating characters to what I will do when I actually get up. But I am tired, and once again I try to still my mind, to relax. Beginning at my toes, I plan to move up my body feeling the release as I do, but I am stuck on my first toe. The practice falls apart. I pray some more, fighting the ideas that come.

There is too much to think about- the daytime hours are not enough, but I need to find a way they can be. I need to sleep.  I need to turn these thoughts into dreams, something I can do while my eyes are closed and my mind is at rest. I rise, take out a paper and pen, and record everything. It is only when I release the ideas to paper that I can sleep. I leave them to work themselves out on the paper while I close my eyes.

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