Jan 7, 2009

Do I sleep too much?

This new Rick is well rested. In bed well before midnight, sleeps till 7, and taking frequent delicious afternoon naps with Zekiah. He is healthy, alert, and may well live longer. He's respecting his body, and in sync with this dark cold time of year that calls us to rest up for the long hours of farming to come.

BUT, he's not burning the midnight oil writing the Great Canadian Novel. He's not on Skype with Africa at 5am dealing with some crisis or brave new idea for ACCES schools. He's on zero sports teams and only one non-profit board. Is he just sleeping through his prime productive years?

The Rick I'm used to being is a motivated, ambitious man who sleeps little, Does much and Achieves greatly. In grad school I studied each weekday till midnight, played guitar with Ted and Mark till 1:30, then watched Mary Tyler Moore until 2:30, and was still up without an alarm at 7:20 each morning to swim laps in the pool before teaching Psych 101 to bleary-eyed freshmen. My body was trained to operate on minimal and efficient sleep, liberating hours and energy to get my masters degree in 2 years with top marks, volunteer at a youth crisis shelter, sing in an all-black (except me) gospel choir, cycle, play, fall in love more than once, and learn to bake my own bread.

"You're not 24 anymore," a little voice whispers (yours, perhaps?) But I refuse to believe that this 41-year-old version of me needs more than twice as much sleep. Maybe more than 5 hours a day, but this isn't about aging, it's about choice.

At 10pm we have a choice to succumb to that yawn or to launch in to a new project that will give another 2-hour burst of energy. At 6am the choice is to roll back over or, as I did this morning, to sneak out for a meditative hot-tub, yoga, and creative writing in this quiet connected daybreak world. Now it's breakfast time and I've already Done alot of satisfying and nurturing things, and feel fresher and more alive than when my family let me sleep until 8:45 yesterday (though that was a blissful oddity).

Ultimately, this is part of the recreation process for our family. I have walked away from the job and board presidency and civic involvement that typically defines men like me. Now it's a matter of revaluing myself as a fully alive and contributing member of society in the roles of dad, writer, house-husband, farmer, partner of a visionary woman, earth steward, chicken whisperer and community-builder.

So yes, it is about choice and creating healthy habits, a balance of sleep and action. But it's equally about acceptance and trust. Acceptance that I do need a bit more than 5 hours of sleep per night, especially at this restorative, gentle time of year. And trust that I am already putting energy into worthwhile activities, and that this restoration right now will let me kick into high gear and long hours of spring planting, summer weeding and fall harvesting, all while continuing to create community and nurture my family, community, and writing muse.

So what do you think? Is this a new, deeply rich Rick in touch with the rhythms of nature and balance, or am I just making excuses for becoming old and losing my edge?


  1. Sounds to me like you have found the perfect balance. Sounds great and wish you all the best! (yes pun intended)

  2. great food for thought... especially "chicken whisperer"..!

  3. I blathered something about this as we walked into the Cowichan Agricultural Society's meeting on Wednesday, but here's a more coherent thought: WE DESERVE THIS. I'm still getting to know Rutabaga Rick, but my guess is that you're a lot like Brock -- your work is your play, so you tend to work a lot. In a month or two we will all be busy preparing livestock habitat, starting seeds, tilling soil, registering for markets/festivals/events, etc., and there will be little time for sleep or other luxuries (e.g. reading, Settlers of Catan). So enjoy it. You have earned it. You've had a busy, stressful, exciting 2008 and will have an equally frantic 2009. Rest, recuperate, and revel in this rare time of Not Having Everything To Do.
    - Your ally, Heather (Makaria Farm)