The Wall of Sleep

Last week, someone asked me “How do you decide what you’re going to blog about every day?  Your topics are so random.”

To the drive-by observer, there is a random quality to this “work” but I’m reminded of a thought game I used to play with my high school classmates before Alan Treworgy’s “Western Civilization” class.  I wonder if the players would remember.  I still have my notes from class and the textbook, Earlier Ages.

We’d be sitting in our uncomfortable school seats during the eight minutes between classes, waiting for Mr. Treworgy to start his lecture.  I might turn around in my seat and say to my classmate, Mike,

“Let’s play ‘Sudden Psychology;’ the first word is pyramid.”

Mike would think about the word for 30 seconds and then respond with

“Peace for our time.”

I’d think about his response and decide if I could follow his train of thought.  I assumed the word “pyramid” had caused him to reflect on the Hebrew slaves building the Pharoah’s pyramids and maybe he thought about Moses.  Since it was springtime when we had this discussion, The Ten Commandments had been on Tee Vee and he was thinking about Charlton Heston.  Charlton Heston had also played the character Robert Neville in the dystopian film The Omega Man.  This film occasionally played after the eleven o’clock news back in the 1970’s, so maybe Mike had watched it over the weekend.  Neville was also the first name of the British Prime Minister who was famous for saying he had achieved “peace for our time” following the signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938 and we were studying this treaty in class.

Here’s the diagram of Mike’s move in “Sudden Psychology:”

Pyramid to Israelites to Moses to Charlton Heston to Omega Man (Neville) to Chamberlain to Peace.


It really wasn’t as “stream of consciousness” as it seemed when we invented it.  Mike had a script he was running in his brain.  We’d laugh at what we thought was our random brilliance.

This “thought game” is sometimes how I approach blogging.  My brother recently wrote a blog post about “30 Minute Writing.” I confess, most of my blog posts take longer than 30 minutes to write and that’s not counting the time and energy the mental script consumes when I’m not writing.  It only seems random at first glance.  The script is running in the background all the time, even when I’m sleeping and there is a somnolent mumble of “order out of chaos.”

I woke up this morning and my bedside lamp was on; no wonder I was already exhausted.  It could only have been worse if I’d left the radio on too; the ESPN overnight audio feed runs in a crazy loop of random sports stories.  The lamp reminded me of a conversation Reggie Black and I had about blue lights and sleep.  I thought about writing a blog post on the importance of a good night’s sleep and when I searched for “the blue light of sleep” I found this article.

Someone had already written everything I wanted to say about sleep so I had to write about something else.

Here is the diagram of my move in the “Sudden Psychology” of random blogging:

A bright bedside lamp to the need for restful sleep to a Smithereens song about sleep to a high school memory to a conversation about blue lights to creating order out of chaos.


How do you create order out of the chaos in your life? 

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3 Responses to The Wall of Sleep

  1. Loosehead Prop says:

    The problem is not just that Mark Sisson beat you to the subject (and if you have to be beaten to it, Sisson is a pretty respectable loss). You keep asking why Reggie Black won’t blog, and there you have it: Somebody has already written everything he wants to say.

    I saw the Smithereens near the end of a tour in 1990 at a Virginia Beach club called, IIRC, the Warehouse. Won tickets from… public radio. They had a PA system built for arenas jammed in that place, the volume was pummelling and brutal, and it was a great show.

    • The Smithereens…what a band. But after the first album or two, didn’t they become “popular?” That’s the nice way to say they wrote a song which was a soundtrack to a movie. “Especially for You” was an album I could listen to over and over, especially “Alone at Midnight.”

      Reggie has a lot to say and I’m sure there would be new and interesting ways he could say it. He’s got a lot on his desk right now, though. We’re cool.

  2. Loosehead Prop says:

    They got popular, but they didn’t soften up to do it. There’s a youtube of “A Girl Like You” from 1990 in a hall in NYC that’s loud and ripping. And “Blood and Roses” was part of a soundtrack in 1986, back when they were only on “alternate” radio in DC.

    Howzabout Winter Hours? Did they ever reach the frozen northeast?

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