West to East: Jet Lag Revisited

Last night I slept well.  I fell asleep around 12:30 a.m. and woke up at 7:30, fell back asleep
and woke up at ten.  Some of you may not realize what an amazing phenomenon that was until I explain.

I recently returned to Greece from a three and a half week trip to the States.  Much of the time on this journey I was disoriented time-wise, but near the end I had found a sleep
pattern that suited me and yielded six or seven hours sleep a night, which is more than I usually get at home.  But when I returned to Greece crazy things started happening.  I would lie awake all night and then not be able to nap during the day.  Or I’d fall
asleep around midnight and then wake up, wide awake, about two or three in the
morning.  This has been going on for days, and it has been intensely frustrating.
At least, as a teacher, I have no work during these summer months, and I can stagger around semi-functional while I recover my temporal equilibrium.  But it is disconcerting,
befuddling, and exhausting, and there has been nothing I have been able to do about it.

Yesterday the problem was compounded by the fact that we went to the beach.  Don’t get me wrong:  the beach was wonderful.  The water was clear and clean, the sandy shore was uncrowded, and it was blissful to relax as the breeze tempered the hot air.

But we did not properly estimate the sun’s strength, mellowed as it was by the gentle wind, and we stayed out too long.  And came home with beet-red sunburn.  It was the kind that throbs as if your skin itself has become a furnace.  So I had not slept since three in the morning the night before, I had terrible sunburn, and to top it all off, probably due to my compromised immune system through all this, I began to sneeze and my nose and eyes ran.

The darkest hour is just before dawn, right?

This morning I woke up feeling great, though I still have the cold and the sunburn.  Both are more manageable than they were yesterday.  I am on the road to recovery.

The moral?  Sometimes things just seem crazy.  And they can go on seeming crazy for day after day after day, until you wonder if the craziness will ever pass.  During this time you
just have to persevere and do your best, craziness notwithstanding, until things sort themselves out and it all aligns properly again.  Patience plays a large part in it, as does
fortitude, as does just plain hanging on.  The things to avoid are the four D’s:
discouragement, despondency, doubt, and despair.  I don’t know about you but it seems that something is always going out-of-kilter in my life.  If it’s not the teaching it’s the writing; if it’s not mechanical failure of appliances or vehicles it’s finances in general; if there’s not a problem with one or more of my sons then I’m in the midst of my own emotional turmoil.

Things happen.  That’s a part of life.  When they do we need to regain our balance, restore our equilibrium.  For a time things may go well.  If they do, avoid the temptation to get
lackadaisical.  Something else will go wrong; it always does.  Life is messy and imperfect.  Instead of yielding to complacency fortify yourself to fight the next battle.  In saying this I don’t necessarily mean start doing push-ups or jumping-jacks, though sometimes this may be the best you could do.  Other times taking a holiday might be the right move.  Or watching a film.  Or visiting a friend.  Or writing a story.

But when everything seems like one insane funhouse ride, remember:  this too shall pass.

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