A couple of nights ago I couldn’t sleep, so I went out to the sofa at midnight and turned on the television. When this insomnia hits, the experts say I should not let anything electronic interfere with a dark, quiet room. Well, that just doesn’t work for me. I’ve already lain in my bed for hours trying to tell my body to nod off, so, I’ve formulated my own therapy to bring sleep . . . a couple of Tylenol and a television show that has a monotone narrator.
I’ve figured out I’m an auditory learner. I love sound. I learn by listening. I also am soothed by voices that show no excitement. So, History and Science channels are my drug of choice after midnight when I experience insomnia. With my head on my favorite pillow, my pug on my tummy, both of us covered by my favorite blankie, I let the illuminated television do its magic.
The program I chose was called, “The History of the World in Two Hours.” Seeing over half of the program was over before I switched it on, I saved myself from all the whoo-ha about the big bang and the billions of years it took to make our solar system. I landed smack-dab in the middle of the development of humans. (The narrator made the point that if you shrunk the 14 billion years of the existence of the universe down to 14 days, the human experience would take up THREE SECONDS.)
And in those three seconds – boy have we been busy!
Did you know that we actually lived in trees at one time? And when the large trees disappeared because of some climate change that brought the grasslands into being, the trees became too crowded, so a few of us more enterprising humans decided to leave the tree apartment and venture out into the flat grass?
But the grass didn’t provide protection, so we got up on our two feet and stood erect, so we could see predators before they could see us. We learned to make cutting tools from rocks. We used those tools to hunt. We invented fire. Being able to cook the food gave us more calories so our brains could grow bigger. We were on our way to conquer earth!
After a few more years, the larynx dropped down in our throats, and we learned to communicate through sound. We could talk! We developed language! We could share experiences! We broadened our experience through the experiences of others, and we got smarter because our world was bigger than our own experiences. Then we learned to write our language, and the world expanded even farther. We also did other marvelous things, like learning to plant seeds so we didn’t have to totally rely on killing something in order to eat. But this ability to share experiences was the one thing that captured me.
I think being human makes us NEED to communicate with others. It might not be in our DNA, but being social certainly is part of the human experience. I think that’s why books are so important. I think we NEED to learn from each other. I think we NEED to listen to others. That’s why we have TWO ears and ONE mouth. We only learn by listening.
Interesting, isn’t it? Listening is more important than talking for any writer. Maybe that’s why we eavesdrop in restaurants and other public places. Or maybe we’re just basically nosy; I don’t know which. But at any rate our ears are always open and our eyes are always observing. Then we go home and write it down. God, I love being a writer!
And yes, eventually sleep does come in the early morning hours and when I wake, I get up and write down my dreams.