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Give Sleep a Chance

December 3, 2016

While visiting friends recently, I came down with a cold and severe cough. That night my host mentioned that if I had trouble sleeping, there was a bottle of cough medicine in the med cabinet, prescription with codeine. In all these years I’ve never resorted to that, but on this night my coughing became so severe that I couldn’t rest from it, and surely I was keeping the whole house awake.

So I went into the bathroom and took “a healthy swig.”

By the time I got back to bed the coughing had stopped. Soon I was the most relaxed that I remember since childhood. I lay there thinking, “My goodness, this feels really really good. Really good. This must be what I’d feel like, in an opium den.” Then sleep “unrolled his feathers, and rowed me softer Home, than Oars divide the Ocean, too silver for a seam” (Dickinson—written on a med?).

The next day my cough returned, so I went to the cabinet, but this time I read the instructions. “One teaspoon.”

I thought about this yesterday, while reading in J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy about opioid addiction, and thinking about the epidemic in the rural rust belt and New England. To me that asks, how can a person handle the stress, when the conditions of life are crumbling? And they are crumbling.

[The actual Dickinson 359.  Don’t miss the last two lines.]

Stand with the Standing Rock Sioux.  Tulsi Gabbard does.

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