Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Sailing by Ash Breeze

I was up in the night last night.  I like that "up in the night" means that you are not thinking straight, or are just plain crazy, as well as literally being awake in the middle of the night.  It is admittedly harder to think straight when you haven't had enough sleep.

I go to bed at a reasonable hour, think for a long while as my body calms down and relaxes, then finally drift off into a peaceful slumber.  About half an hour later, I'm awake; eye-poppingly awake.  Thank you, menopause.  I realize that my sleep hygiene could be better, but my currently-shifting hormones require that I have an absolutely perfect blend of vitamins, exercise, calm environments, good food absolutely devoid of sugar, no evening screen time, and zero stress before I can sleep well.  The irony is that carefully tweaking so many variables just makes me tired.  Thus, I don't usually sleep well.

Lying in bed becomes increasingly uncomfortable, and boring, so I do what any self-respecting bibliophile does when presented with unexpected spare time: I read a book.  I've been cleaning out my bookshelves recently, and re-reading all our books to make sure I love them and want to keep them.  I have been wanting to make sure that my bookshelves contain friends, like Anne Shirley Blythe would say.  Every book needs to "belong to the race of Joseph" in order to justify its dusting.

Last night, I re-read one of my favorites, "Carry on, Mr. Bowditch."  It is an historical fiction novel based on the life of Nathaniel Bowditch, a renowned mathematician, astronomer, and expert on ocean navigation in early American history.  He was self-taught due to being an indentured servant during his schooling years and not having the opportunity to attend classes.  When others mocked him and said he was "becalmed" and had no further room for growth, he roared, "Only a weakling gives up when he is becalmed!  A strong man sails by ash breeze!"

Of course, we would love to have our sails always full of just the right amount of wind, blowing us effortlessly into a calm and prosperous harbor.  But when the wind dies, or is going the wrong way, we break out the oars and row.  Oars were usually made of ash wood, so by paddling you can make your own "wind," or "ash breeze."  It's a good reminder that you can make your own path, no matter what your outside circumstances are.  Now excuse me while I go take a nap.  I mean, ponder this.

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