I awoke at 3:30 in the morning, Paris time, and couldn’t get back to sleep. In fact, I had barely rested the first two nights of our trip. My body wouldn’t be fooled into thinking it should be snoozing when it was six hours earlier at home. My mind was filled with the images of the city that my husband and I were experiencing for the first time. It wasn’t just the time zone difference, the jet lag tiredness; I sometimes had insomnia at home. And when I did, it seemed that I would awake around 3:30, just like I was experiencing in our tiny room on the fifth floor of our boutique hotel.
Lying there, I thought about how I would handle the situation at home. Years before, I’d listened to a talk by Dr. Wayne Dyer who quoted Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet, and Sufi mystic: “The morning breeze has secrets to tell you. Do not go back to sleep.”
Dr. Dyer talked about the common experience of people waking around the same time during the night when they were the least influenced by conscious thought. He told about how he got up and listened to the “secrets.” In those early morning hours, he had amazing clarity that helped him work through writing blocks.
At home, I’d sit in the family room, or on warm nights, the screened porch. In the silence, I’d wait to either receive some inspiration or guidance from that breeze. Sometimes I’d write through a section of my memoir or record ideas for future blog posts.
But in that Paris hotel room, there was no place to go—not really. The closest sitting area was in the lobby of the first floor. I didn’t want to change my clothes and go down the five flights of the narrow spiral staircase. I refused to ride in the tiny elevator because my claustrophobia could not tolerate that tiny box. From the day we arrived, I told my husband to go ahead on the elevator and I’d take the stairs. The housekeeping staff looked at me with curiosity when I dodged their cleaning carts, making my way up and down the steps. If it hadn’t been for the Paris pastries, I might have lost some weight during my stay!
I tried to ignore Rumi’s advice, willing myself to go back to sleep. But after growing bored, listening to my husband’s easy breaths, envying his ability to sleep, I got up. Rummaging through my bags in the dark, I found my paper and pen and set up my writing ‘desk’ in the bathroom, putting down the toilet seat and closing the door so the light wouldn’t wake my husband—as if it could!
We’d been so busy walking about the city, riding the hop-on-hop-off bus, eating in the cafés that I hadn’t had time to write in my journal. Sitting there at my ‘desk,’ I recorded the things that fascinated me about Paris: feeling tiny while standing on the ground underneath the colossal ironwork of the Eiffel Tower, the chance meeting of a family from Fayetteville, North Carolina while in line for one of the scarce restrooms, the upstairs of Shakespeare and Company bookstore where famous writers had gathered.
After writing for over an hour, I’d poured Paris onto the page. Finally, my eyes felt heavy and my mind had let go of all those stimulating images. Then sleep came easily and after three hours, I awoke, rested.
Now when I look at my journal, I have pages of our Paris experience that may not have been recorded if not for that night in the bathroom. While I was irritated then that sleep wouldn’t come, those creative bursts so inconvenient, I’m thankful that I listened to that voice of Rumi. That poet from the 13th century had shared his wisdom from his sleepless nights.
How about you?
When do you awaken in the night?
What have you discovered when you listen to the secrets of the morning breeze?