At the end of each day, I have my alone time. It is not an intentional act of mine, this alone time. It just happens. And I think it is necessary for me as a person… even though it isn’t intentional.
Whenever I am with people overnight somewhere, and we all head off to bed around the same time, everyone is usually surprised the next day to discover that I was awake close to an hour after we had all parted ways. My mom, I think, is accustomed to my going to bed later than she does in the first place, and so she doesn’t really notice it until we travel together. When we’re staying in the same room, she usually complains a good amount, until she finally goes to sleep and lets me finish my bedtime stuff.
Which brings me to my bedtime stuff. I would call it my bedtime ritual, except that it isn’t actually a ritual. And it isn’t exactly a routine either, because the order and timing change around, depending on the night. It’s just what I do before going to sleep. This includes, but is not limited to flossing and brushing my teeth, using the bathroom, washing my face, changing clothes, and reading. Such has been the case for the past few, possibly even several, years. This past year has added to it my showering, cleaning and irrigating my ears, and writing for my weblog (if I haven’t yet done it that day (which is most days)). Sometimes, I stretch after my shower, too, but I usually forget that one.
These things don’t necessarily take all that long under normal circumstances. Ask me to do them all in the middle of the day, and I’ll be finished quite quickly. But having me so they all at night, just before bed, means having them take around an hour, possibly longer. Like I mentioned, this time is my alone time. Perhaps it is a subconscious act, taking so long to do it all, my mind giving me a chance to unwind after whatever the day brought me. Some nights, I am utterly exhausted, and yet I still take around half an hour to get everything finished and actually turn out my light to sleep. Sometimes, I just find myself standing or sitting somewhere around my apartment or room, waiting… I suppose I must be waiting for the unwind to finish, or something to that effect…
Whenever I travel to dance events, there is usually someone already asleep by the time I come in to go to bed, and definitely by the time I am finishing my bedtime stuff. So, I usually find myself sitting on the bathroom floor (or next to a cracked-open bathroom door, if there isn’t really space to sit on the floor in the bathroom) in my pjs and with my hair wet, reading from my two books.
The first book is always the same. I began reading from it daily over three and a half years ago, as part of my desire to read the whole thing. I have kept to my word on it (although there are two or three days where I honestly couldn’t remember the next day if I had done my reading or not, so I read extra to make up for what might have been missed) since I began, and have read at least a little bit every day. I didn’t want to give myself a set amount that would burn me out, so I just said that I had to read something. That could be as little as a sentence. Some nights, it has been. Some nights, it has been pages. Usually, it is a few sentences or a little section within a section. One day, I will finish it. In the meantime, I am learning all sorts of outdated French words as I read through this Bible.
The second book is a different story. It isn’t even a requirement. I began the requirement to read each day several years ago, before the Bible thing began. Back then, I would find myself reading messages on envelopes or greeting cards as I was going to bed, because I needed to read at least a whole sentence in that day as part of my goal to read every day (which, in turn, was part of my goal to read lots and to read often). Now that I have the Bible required for every day, the second book is just for pleasure. For days when I’m at a particularly boring part in the Bible, I wanted to have something else to make the reading exciting and worth doing – extra encouragement, so to speak. So, the only requirement of the second book is that it be something I like reading. Right now, it is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The last one was Catch 22, and the one before that was a Sophie Kinsella. What exactly it is changes with each new book – just whatever’s next on the list, and also feels right for my nighttime book (gotta have something positive before bed, because those thoughts go with me into sleep). Another rough requirement for my nighttime book (Bible included, actually), is that it be only my nighttime book – I don’t carry it around and read it during the day, too. When I did in the past, I would rush through it so quickly, I’d be without a nighttime book again in only a couple or few days, and the whole purpose would be lost. So I have daytime books now, in addition to my nighttime ones. They’re usually on my Kindle (which is super cool), for easy transport. My nighttime books are always real books, because I don’t really have to haul them around. When I do take a trip, I usually just photograph the pages, if I’m limited on packing space/weight.
Anyway, I made it through the rest of my stuff too quickly tonight, so I had to spend more time on this than I had intended – I’m exhausted! Going to read now (and we’ll see if it happens quickly, because I’m really liking where I am in Zen right now) ad get to sleep as soon as possible! Sweet dreams, world.