Overnight resolutions

by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.

Oddly I sleep most profoundly when I succumb to an afternoon nap on the couch. It’s not that I haven’t the desire to sleep at night but the daytime submission is almost uniformly more contented. At night I tend to reflect upon things, apparently a disrupting pastime. Sometimes those thoughts acquire the dignity of a dream but mostly they’re just disjointed and mildly antsy observations.  I say “observations” though there’s nothing historical about the exploits.  It must be because I cast myself as an observer in these midnight vignettes. To say that I succeed to develop a thesis or conclusion would be a stretch.  The revelations are empirical without the benefit of analysis.

Nonetheless when I awaken there is always a lingering remnant of what occupied me moments earlier. The little I know about the effect of dreams upon the state of mind in sleep persuades me that the interruption can last mere seconds. As a result the recollection upon awakening can be equally ephemeral. Yet the carryover if at all significant is undeniable.  I won’t say it is haunting – nor have I ever been unhinged by a dream of any caliber – but the recollection may at least provoke fleeting daytime rumination.

The trouble with dissecting the nebulous images of dreams is that they are never quite as compelling as they were in the still and chill of a dark room. Daylight is a notorious disinfectant. Yet I frequently struggle to recapture the theme of the imaginary occurrence, coupling it with some yearning or unrealistic fantasy in search for a key to enlarge my understanding of its import. More often than not the upshot is of no consequence whatever but it always leaves me wondering what was so inventive or commanding in the first place. Lest I am confused with unintended mysticism, I don’t imagine that midnight visions form the basis for any logical conclusions about one’s deep-seated motives. But one has to question the impetus to a degree. These flighty ambitions derive their inspiration from within! No matter how tortured may be the interpretation of the dream, the incontrovertible fact remains that it sprang from something within our head. Even crediting the production with a hint of substance is enough to entangle me upon awakening in a digestion of possibilities. At the very least the midnight resolutions are provocative.

The thing is, it’s so easy to become distracted during the waking hours. If we’re not careful we can unadvisedly overlook the thrust of our midnight resolutions. By nature we’re not famously inclined to self-analysis, in particular one’s motives and character. We mustn’t however disregard the slightest inclination for contemplation about life.

The unexamined life is not worth living (Ancient Greek: ὁ … ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ) is a famous dictum apparently uttered by Socrates at his trial for impiety and corrupting youth, for which he was subsequently sentenced to death, as described in Plato’s Apology (38a5-6).

Yet in the flurry of waking existence the tremolos of conscience quickly become submerged and disappear in a wake of incertitude. Open-eyed absorption handily sidelines close-eyed reflection. I cling to the distant murmurings of overnight resolutions as though they were a modest insight into some greater pioneering. But I have never discovered any particular key or secret to unlock the niggling conundrums of life. Perhaps the entire issue is redundant. I mean, really, what more proof of existence is required than that “it is what it is”? I know that summation sounds horribly dismissive and no doubt trite and more than a bit straw-headed but at times I can’t think that all the long-winded analysis in the world will do anything to improve upon it. Besides, do we honestly imagine anything will change?  At best, we’ll be in a state of recovery but I’m not so sure the constitution is altered.

As a result I’ve opted instead for accommodation as the answer: Deal with it! As a practical solution it’s a difficult one to overthrow. It certainly eliminates the necessity of consternation. It also imports a feature of charitableness which is so often lacking in one’s personal view of oneself. Rather than beating oneself up for one thing or another – or allowing oneself to be tormented needlessly by phantoms which are impossible to characterize – simply jettison the entire lot in favour of acquiescence. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen, you’re resigned to relishing what’s before your eyes without the innuendo and kerfuffle. A great deal less work if nothing else!

Meanwhile the overnight resolutions will presumably continue unabated and unresolved. They like almost every other aspect of our existence are imperturbable and impenetrable. Perhaps therein lies the clue to life – an acceptance of its unfathomable mystery.