Warning: This note makes drastic generalizations and, therefore, may not be relevant in any way to your situation or actions. If this is true, congratulations, but I am not speaking to you. Please take this note with a grain of salt.
Do you recall that era of your life when your biggest worry was whether or not the rib sandwich was going to be served for lunch in the cafeteria that day? I do, but barely. I remember sitting at the lunch table, eating that sandwich triumphantly, knowing this was a good day; this is opposed to a bad day, which was normally caused by overcooked meatloaf and fake potatoes. I may be stepping over my boundaries by saying this, but I bet most of us wish our bad days consisted of sub-par cafeteria food and a little too much homework.
Now, I’m not saying we all had perfect lives back then. Almost everyone I know has some sort of sudo-repressed memory from their childhood that makes them cringe. Crap happens, even when you’re young. I’m just saying our innocence candy-coated the bad stuff to the point where we were able to continue basic function; even when things at home were hopeless, we could still argue about what kind of food we had that day. Back then, we were so good at letting things roll off our shoulders that we had to make drama up just to keep life interesting.
Have you ever pondered the evolution of how we cope with hard stuff throughout our lives? I found myself considering the succession of our coping process just the other day, and the conclusion I came to initially caught me off guard. Here is the concise version of my thought process:
When infants find themselves in stressful or potentially dangerous situations, they simply go to sleep. That is their natural reaction. Their brain gets overloaded, so they go to sleep, a simple but effective way to cope.
As infants become toddlers and so forth, they begin to repress things; forgetting sensitive details and artificially holding on to their innocence.
Once they hit the age of thirteen or so, his/her mind is too complex and it can no longer rely solely on repression. Coincidentally enough, this is also the time where he/she will start to question everything about life, and this doesn’t stop for a considerable amount of time. Actually, I’m not sure if it ever stops.
What I find the most interesting about the evolution is this: after going through the entire process, we end where we started. The progression is formed in the shape of a circle. After growth and enlightenment, repression and contention, we find ourselves within the same state we instinctively began at birth.
We simply go back to sleep.
I would love to move forward by saying that we just didn’t sleep enough in high school and college due to poor time-management, prompting a logical excuse for some much needed nap-time, but it isn’t that simple. It may start out as a reaction, but it quickly progresses to the level of obsession.
The truth is, when the going gets tough and depression starts to set in, the developed and logical brain runs straight back to its fundamental root. It seems harmless at first, but we eventually start to pray for sleep; we yearn, even fantasize about it with a false hope that sleep cures all illness: like if we could just sleep a little more, we would find joy upon waking. This Wizard of Oz hope is impartial to the type of suffering one may be experiencing, and it is fuel to the fire of hopeless detention.
“So, Jeff, what do you propose we do about it?” you may be asking.
The answer is, I don’t have a clue.