Set It and Forget It

September 3, 2007

I cant remember the last time I remembered a dream.  I don’t think I do it anymore.  I’m sure some psych student will go on to explain to me that I am dreaming… I just don’t remember that I’m dreaming.  Well… if that’s the case, then what the fuck is the point of dreaming in the first place? 

I don’t remember my dreams… and I blame this on television.

For longer than I care to remember, I’ve observed the bedtime ritual of falling asleep awash in the septic, neon cone of a television screen.  I probably started this back in high school, when my father was too dazed by my mother’s death to teach me better.  Not that I blame him – he taught me a lot of good shit, too.  He just dropped the ball on this one.

The habit of falling asleep to the television followed me to college, when I’d hijack my roommate’s little tv/vcr and drift away to the same four mystery science theater 3000 tapes.  I don’t regret this one – those four tapes are the gospels of my most frequently nicked jokes.  But still, the behavior itself is rather sad when you really sit down to consider it.  Falling asleep to the television is the fortunate man’s version of starving to death on the street.  Sleep itself is such a glorious enterprise, it’s a moment for stillness and silence.  Recuperation.  A time where you get to lie in the dark for the few moments before you’re pulled into the harshness of the next morning and all of the putrid bullshit that it brings: coffee, people who talk about their coffee, dressing for work, morning-drive radio, people who wear ties, people who talk about their ties.  Our closing moments of each day should be meditative… time for decompression, or even better… time to read.  But I don’t do that.  I read in the evenings or the afternoon.  At night… at night I fall asleep to the TV, and what dreams I do remember always take on the characteristics of what is playing on the screen:  I’m stranded on some black and white island, hiding from claymation dinosaurs, or I’m trying to lose those last, hard-to-lose pounds.  I worry, sometimes, about what I’m encoding into my brain while I sleep.

I flipped around through the channels tonight, and found on every station a reason to wish for death.  I realize that most people who know me find me to be melodramatic and overly cynical.  An asshole, essentially… but if you actually stop for a moment, and consider what’s actually on television – ESPECIALLY between the hours of 12 and 4 in the morning… you’ll get a glimpse into what must be the saddest age for humanity.  We live in an age of spray-on hair and nonstick pans.  Ab-Rockets and Colon-cleansers.  Hand-held vacuum cleaners that can grasp bowling balls.  When I was in college I used to get high and laugh at infomercials like this.  I’m four years out of college now.  I don’t get high anymore.  I look at infomercials and wonder when oh when our time will come… when some great cleansing stone will come and dash us off the planet, and chew away all of our car wax and denture adhesive, our car alarms and our downloadable cell phone rings. 

I wonder, if it were possible, what our planet would look like if everyone’s bedtime television was visible from the sky.  Maybe even from space.  I’ve seen pictures of the planet at night – winking veins of light, arcing out across the northeast and the pacific coast of America like long cracks glittering across panes of shattered, black glass.  I wonder if that’s fitting… that with our transformer boxes and our street lights, and our Ron Popeil rotisseries, we’ve broken the stillness of nighttime. 

Tonight I’ve decided to sleep like they used to before dinner became as simple as "set it and forget it."  Tonight I’m sleeping like they did when dinner actually required that you be adjacent the instrument that cooked it.  Tonight I’ve turned off my television set…  Tonight I’m sleeping to the sound of whatever is outside my window. 

Anyone up in space looking for me… I’ll be the one in the darkened house, the one who hopefully will wake up tomorrow to the memory of a dream of roaring crickets, and a spray of stars across the soft, black night.

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