Rediscovered comforts

Cate Blanchett as Charlotte Gray in the eponymous film, flaunting her beret.

“There are times when familiar, reassuring thoughts come back as comforts.” So says Ian Poulton. He’s a Church of Ireland vicar who writes the For The Fainthearted blog.

I’m stealing his thoughts for this post for the Loose Bloggers Consortium. Ian’s a reflective wide-ranging wonderer and storyteller. He was one of the first to encourage me with this here internet writing. And he’s talking about sleep – which is something I want to rediscover for myself – before the bags under my eyes become haversacks.

This is some of what he says about rediscovery:

There is the line in Sebastian Faulks’ moving novel Charlotte Gray, where Miss Gray is about to be parachuted into Nazi-Occupied France as a spy. An RAF bomber is flying her through the night, deep into occupied territory, and one of the bomber crew announces to her that they are just passing over one of the French cities.

It was a reassuring moment to me, the image of an aeroplane moving through a clouded night sky, almost as though it was tiptoeing so as not to wake anyone. The city below was a place I knew from summer holidays, but it was more than that; there is a feeling of safety, of security, in a community asleep below in the deep darkness. Is it perhaps that sleeping people are unthreatening people, or is it that sleep represents a refuge from all the worries of the world?

I remember reading Father Niall O’Brien’s story of his ministry on the Philippine island of Negros, a tale of struggling against violence and oppression. Many of the sugar workers led miserable lives as day labourers, yet there was one moment where Niall O’Brien describes stepping into a hut late at night to be met with darkness in which he could make out the sleeping figures of itinerant workers. Sleep seemed a moment of relief, a few brief hours of respite from the grinding poverty in which they lived.

The late great Pete Postlethwaite as Prospero

For Prospero, in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, life itself is a dream rounded off with sleep:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

There’s more on this from Ian here. You’ll find more from the other Loose Bloggers if you clink on their links in the right hand column (just scroll down a bit to find them). Ian concludes with this wish: 

May our sleep be reassuring and our dreams be peaceful.

Amen to that.

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23 Comments

Filed under art, D - Loose Bloggers Consortium

23 responses to “Rediscovered comforts

  1. I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of sleep, and dreams. Wan’t it Willy Shakes who said:
    To sleep–perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub,
    For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

  2. I did read that piece on Ian’s blog, I have been a follower for quite a few years.

    Sleep is a gift I am rediscovering after years of surviving on two consecutive hours. Alas, it takes little to return to the old wakeful ways. 😦

  3. Like Grannymar, I have trouble getting a full night’s sleep. I tend to wake up several hours before I need to. My sleep isn’t too comforting either, I have very strange and disturbing dreams. For me being awake and active is more comforting than being asleep.

    • blackwatertown

      Sorry to hear about your bad dream disrupted sleep. I don’t have nightmares. As a child there were two particular bad dreams that seemed almost inevitable, but these days I’m not prone while prone.

  4. I’m with Grannymar and Nick, not much of a sleeper. Still, when I do sleep my body slips into restfulness and my mind is at peace.

  5. “May our sleep be reassuring and our dreams be peaceful.”

    I second the motion with another hearty amen!

  6. Paul, at least your post makes sense— Conrad has completely flipped out on his new found pleasure. You appear to be a sane person. Sleep comes in second in my line of pleasures.

  7. Paul, don’t humor Mayo. It’s the road to perdition, I tell you.

    By the way, I am a very good sleeper. It is the waking world that I find challenging.

  8. My sleep is usually disturbed by RLS–so I get up, drink water and walk–all around 1.30 am. I do love my 20 minute siesta though.

    • blackwatertown

      You could try a little dancing while you’re up?
      I used to wander up and down singing songs from the Manic Street Preachers – but that wasn’t because I couldn’t sleep. It was the Top Boy in my arms who was reluctant.

  9. I hope that I never have to discover sleep. It is bad enough trying to discover wakefulness!

  10. The road ahead with Mayo, to some, may look long, curvy, and untravelable, but you will “rediscover additional pleasures”, some wanted- some unwanted, once in a while.
    I know, because I can get into his “mind’ and his “wine cellar.”

  11. I take it this sleep thing everyone is talking about is that thing where you close your fluffy little eyeballs, and a few seconds later you reopen them to find yourself miraculously rocketed through hours of time in mere seconds to the start of a new and very bleary eyed day?! Hmmm… 😉

  12. My problem is I can’t stay awake in the evening and I wake up too early in the morning, even if I force myself to stay up later at night. I hope you treat yourself to some good sleep soon, Paul. Sweet dreams!

    • blackwatertown

      Last night was great! (Ooer – that’s open to misinterpretation.)
      What I mean is – I took your advice. Sleep – it was great.
      I’m a bit behind on other things now though – like reading and writing. But as that great philosopher S O’Hara said – Tomorrow IS another day.

  13. It is probably true that Charles Dickens slept with his head facing North- being an insomniac, he would often pad the streets for hours through the night, getting many of his best ideas and inspirations in the process. This gave us a great wealth of literature etc- but he did become blown out and exhausted, (I admire him very much and find this sad). And what about Margaret Thatcher? She thrived on few hours sleep each night, and is not enjoying her later years, apparantly, (I don’t like her very much, but also find this sad).

  14. We all l know that Shakespeare’s later plays are the kind written by aging poets. Grounded more in dream than reality possibly because the long sleep lies just ahead in which all will melt away. I read somewhere recently that sleep was death without the commitment. That is what is going on, isn’t it? But what is sleep without the dream? It is the dream that inspires and keeps the fire lit under us. We are all dreamers after a fashion and sleep is just the rocket that powers us there.

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