A Bad Night’s Sleep

Some things just don’t seem necessary, you know? Like bringing sand to the beach. Or rocks to the mountains. Or World Series hopes to a Rockies game.

Nonetheless, a pair of Swiss brothers have decided that what the world really needs is a bad’s night sleep.

Billed as a “zero star suite,” the brothers – yes, of course, they’re artists – are renting out a double bed on a platform with a couple of bedside tables, lamps and no doors, walls or ceiling whatsoever. According to Reuters, “The intention is to make guests think about the problems in the world … and inspire them to act differently.”

The cost: just under $340. That’s with room service, mind you.

So, let me just ask the audience … anyone who needs help thinking about all the troubles in the world, or even just in your corner of it, please raise your hand.

Anyone? Anyone?

Yeah, I kind of thought so.

These days, it’s absurdly easy to dwell on the troubles of the world, not least because we seem to have bought the Whitman Sampler selection. Whatever your faction, philosophy or belief, there’s enough out there to keep anyone up at night. Climate change and court rulings. The economy and gas prices. Ukraine and … well, you get the idea.

And of course, none of us come to these problems with a blank slate. Even in the best of times, we’re all dealing with struggles of our own: family, health or a dozen more besides. If anything, we have too many alarms blaring on the deck. Most are in the “do not ignore” category but each of us only comes with one body and mind to attend to it all. (Well, unless you bought the Doctor Who Time Traveler Accessory Kit, in which case I want to speak with you right after this column.)

It’s easy to get overwhelmed. And depressed. And, well, sleepless.

What’s a person to do?

Something.

No, that’s not a word I left in the column while trying to think of a more profound phrase. It’s what we do. In the end, it’s all we can do.

Something. 
Our piece of the problem. In our place. At our time. However small it may seem.

Some of you may remember that I collect quotes the way some people collect action figures or classic cars. And for a long time, a 120-year-old quote from Edward Everett Hale has had a prominent place in my collection:

“I am only one, but I am one.

I cannot do everything, but I can do something.

The something I ought to do, I can do.

And by the grace of God, I will.”  

Every effort by an individual looks small. But none of them is meaningless. And enough “smalls” put together over time just may add up to something pretty big.

That’s not an excuse to sit back and trust that everything will work out. I’m peddling hope here, not optimism. What’s the difference? Hope commits. It rolls up its sleeves. As another writer put it, by acknowledging that problems can be solved, hope assumes an obligation to get up and do something.

It doesn’t guarantee “easy.” Heck, it doesn’t guarantee anything. But hope calls you to do what you can, where you can.  

Overwhelming? Sure. But not futile.

I’ll indulge in one last quote, from a science fiction author named Leo Frankowski. In one of his books, a modern Polish time traveler explains to a medieval lord that while his people don’t live to fight, they do fight for keeps:

“We fight long wars, and we win,” he says. “Once we fought for a hundred thirty years, when the very name of our country was erased from the map. And we won.”

That’s hope. That’s commitment.

That’s us.

And hopefully, it’s something that helps you sleep a little better at night.

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