I woke with a start the other night, in a pool of my own neuroses.
It was the 25th time for the week. I had barely made it to 02:00AM. That is when the bogeymen come out. The ‘what ifs’, the ‘whaddabouts’, the ‘WTHs! The shouldas and the couldas are never far behind.
Usually, it’s all the things I can’t control. And all the things that, as a mental health professional, I guide on reigning in. And all there in the wee hours in my room, gathered like toddlers around the foot of my bed.
“What if you got that wrong?”
“Did you remember about…..?”
“How in the hell are you gonna solve that problem that hadn’t entered the stream of human consciousness until a month ago?”
It’s been exhausting. Usually, though, I eventually tuck them all in one by one, with a touch of compassion and apathy. Trying to acknowledge the fear and the utter lack of control.
This time, though, the ‘What if’ was big and bizarre. It woke me by yanking my shoulder blades up around my ears.
What if, it screamed, I had travelled so much that I was losing pieces of my soul with every stop I was making! As this is one of longest stretches of being home, I wonder if I’m being jarred awake by pieces of my soul coming home to roost. Slamming home and sticking like some piece of playdoh. Waking me with a jolt.
By my count, this year I’ve been in 9 countries, and flown 100,000 miles. This must be some risk to a person. Ionic radiation cleaving off the bonds and hi-powered-detergent scrubbing free the pieces.
I’m no shaman. No student of the mystic arts. I’m sure there is a new age belief about this, but this thought just occurred to me in the middle of the night. Lying awake there, I thought about the parts of my soul that may be missing. Jokingly, I named them after the seven dwarfs. And then I thought back to where I might have left them.
Here’s an interesting personal fact. I have an astounding ability to remember hotel room numbers. No matter what time I check-in in the wee hours. If I see my number written down, I’ll recall it without a second glance. And they linger there in my brain because have nothing else to recall, apparently.
And so, to get myself back to sleep, rather than counting sleep, I recount hotel room numbers and wonder which part of my soul is where.
“Happy” was probably left in room 2106 at the Keraton in Jakarta. I liked being back there for a spell. It was kind of like a reunion with an old friend. Warts and all.
“Bashful” was left in room 718 of the Gateway in Nadi, Fiji. Was hard to get out to the rest of the island. COVID drove me away this time. The time before that was a Typhoon.
“Grumpy”, with his temper, was left in room 326 of the Peninsula in Manila. The volcanic eruption and all.
“Sleepy” is likely still slumbering in room 2022 at the Grand Hyatt in Taipei. Quite possibly the quietest and most comfortable night’s rest outside my own bed.
And so it goes, the accounting of my fractious soul, and I’m asleep before I can come up with a plan to recall them. Perhaps this period of just being still will allow all the pieces to flow home. They will all come home to roost like birds of a feather. Ready for a soul-full trip when the world turns right side up.