I’ve used pills to get to sleep, and to stay asleep, for many years.  I may see myself as a nice little Buddhist guy, so majorly peaceful, but the truth is that I haven’t known how to handle the stresses of teaching.  I taught visually impaired kids until my recent retirement, usually going to about twenty schools a year on a regular basis.  Some days were golden, and some were not.

I worried so much that I didn’t know enough about eye conditions, and how to assess a particular child.  I struggled with a “To Do”list that never seemed to fall below 100 items.  I did my best to deal with the wide variety of personalities that came my way in the school system.  And I didn’t sleep very well.

So it’s been a regime of Trazodone (1) and Lorazepam (2) for many moons.  Even with the meds, there were some Sunday nights when I didn’t sleep at all.  Such overwhelming fear.  For part of the time when Jody was in the hospital in February and March, it took three Lorazepam for me to get five or six hours.

My spiritual life and my drug consumption tossed me back and forth in the wind.  “Should’s” abounded.  Really evolved human beings wouldn’t need all those pills.  But the more I’ve thought about it, the intense focus and the multitasking required in so many careers is just unnatural.  Society says “X” but my heart and body say “Y”.  And “Project Pension” has seemed so essential.  I really think that the insomnia of the last decade is not about any deficiency in me.  I bought into the context of achievement, of comparison with others, of the importance of knowing stuff.

As of June 19, my employment life is over.  So I took a step last night: one Trazodone and just one Lorazepam.  And the result, ladies and gentlemen, was four hours of sleep, plus a daytime dullness that’s worlds away from the mindfulness I treasure.  I wonder if you can see that dullness in these paragraphs.  Maybe I’m good at hiding it or maybe it’s clear as day.

I don’t want to live this way, not being present to the enchanting moments of life.  I guess, though, that I need to pass through days like this on my journey to pilllessness.

What I want is to be a large contribution to the people in my life, to be a beacon of love and presence.  And without the ego of “Look at me”.  So I travel on.

How about six hours tonight?

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