I’m a big fan of the snooze button on my alarm clock. I’ve cut down slightly recently, but I used to regularly enjoy about 45 mins of snooze time. For the mathematically minded, thanks to Sony Ericcson’s inexplicable 9 minute snooze, I am able to ignore my alarm 5 times every morning before finally hauling my ass out of bed. My flatmate used to ridicule me for this. “Why don’t you just set your alarm for 45 mins later?”. This makes sense – it would be nice to have 45 mins of extra actual sleep. Maybe it’s partially because I like the idea of getting up earlier than I do, and having the alarm always set early at least makes it feel like I’m trying. But I think it’s more due to the fact that I really enjoy that sort of half-asleep, half-awake state I occupy during snooze-time – it’s got all the relaxation of actually being asleep, with the added benefit of being awake enough to enjoy it.
I got a new phone at Christmas, and for the first couple of months of 2009 I decided to use the radio as my alarm clock. Instead of hitting snooze I would just lie in bed and listen to the news until I felt like getting up. It was great. I was au fait with current affairs. I heard a lot of important people say things live that I later read as quotes on BBC news. It felt good knowing the day’s events BEFORE being told by the Metro on the bus. I was familiar with everything that was being talked about on “Have I got news for you”. However, I discovered a massive downside to my new life as a conversant and switched-on young-professional – I wasn’t remembering dreams anymore. I’m not sure whether I was still having them or not, but I started to think that maybe all that snoozing allows my dreams to ferment and lodge themselves in my brain. To be fair, I’ve never really had a particularly active or interesting dream-life (unlike Joseph or MLK), but there was still something scary about thinking you aren’t dreaming at all any more.
So I switched back to the snooze routine, and the dreams have returned. And while they’re mostly just ideas for films that seem amazing at the time but make no sense in the cold light of day, it’s nice to feel more connected to my imagination. I wondered, where else might I be starving my subconscious? (or my soul?) I realised that some days, for most of the day there was some sort of signal blocking out what was going on around me – woken up by the radio, eat breakfast with BBC News 24, travel to work with iPod, work on computer all day, travel home with iPod, watch some TV, surf the internet and then go to bed to be lulled to sleep by the various buzzes and squeaks of pipes and ‘sleeping’ electronic equipment. Depressing!
Obviously, this is an exaggeration but it did make me wonder what I’m missing out on. Here are 2 things I think we’re in danger of losing:
- The art of meditation.
I’m not talking about yoga or anything, I just mean the ability to actually think about something and process information, before it’s just replaced by another stream of input and forgotten.
- Connection to our environment.
The people around us on the way in to work, the sound of birds singing in the morning, the sky, and all kinds of other poetic stuff. Here’s a mewithoutYou lyric about how the natural world often has more to say for itself than all the noises and distractions we surround ourselves with.
And at the water’s edge, Babylon;
As we lay and slept,
The river wept for you, Zion!
The stones cry out,
Bells shake the sky!
All of creation groans… SHHHH! Listen to it!
mewithoutYou ~ ‘O Porcupine’
Admittedly, I haven’t really changed anything in my lifestyle since I started thinking about this stuff, and maybe I’ll never be motivated enough to do so. But I’m definitely learning to appreciate those surprising moments of liberation that come with a power cut or a forgotten mobile phone. I guess it’s good to be disconnected sometimes.