Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Writing (and Praying): A Letter to a Reader

Anna Renee,

It seems that these days I always begin my letters with an apology. And this one will be no different. I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. I will not use the excuse that I was so busy because aren’t we all so busy? And besides, even in the hubbub of your own life, even given the many responsibilities you have, you gave up your time to write me in an attempt to encourage me, and for that I truly am thankful.

You know the other day a good friend of mine just out of the blue asked me if I were happy. And I smiled, and told her that, yes, I was really and truly happy. But then she said that even though I was always cheerful, even though I usually had a smile on my face, she sensed that many times my mind was elsewhere. Many times I would be going through something, but only I was too prideful to admit it, to seek out someone to talk to.

She said that she sensed that I was one of those smiling on the outside, crying on the inside type persons. I don’t know where she ever got that from.

But I guess she was partially right. There are times that I am going through something. At those times, I withdraw. I become reticent. But aren’t we all going through something at some time or another? But I have learned to deal with, to cope with those times.

Let me give you some background. Every since I was a child, I have not been able to sleep most nights. When I was a child, after my mother and father were asleep, after my siblings were asleep, I would wake up and not be able to go back to sleep.

Sometimes I read. But mostly I paced the floor. Night after night after night, I would pace the floor in the darkness waiting for sleep to come. Waiting for peace to come.

Then my mother told me that when these bouts of insomnia hit, that was a sign that I needed to pray. So, I tried praying, but the peace still would not come. But at some time or another, for some reason or another, I began to write my prayers down.

And slowly these prayers began to take the appearance of stories. Sometimes these prayers would be about something that happened at school that day. Or something that happened around the neighborhood. Or simply something that was weighing heavily on my mind.

But mostly these stories would be about love. Love between men and women. The love of a mother for her child, a father for his child. The seeming absence of love from the world we live in. Just love.

And in praying, in writing, peace would finally come.

When I first got married to my wife, after the honeymoon phase passed and we actually attempted to sleep at night, I began my old routine anew. She didn’t complain all that much, but it must have been hard for her in the beginning. She must have been nervous, wondering what she had gotten into.

In the silent darkness of our small apartment, I would get up in the middle of the night, and I would pace the floor. And I would write. I would pace the floor. And I would write. I would pace the floor. And I would write. Sometimes until sweat ran down my face like drops of blood.

And in praying, in writing, peace would finally come.

Just the other night when I was up, after my wife and children had long gone to bed—my children, too, have now become inured to my nocturnal habits—the phone rang. It was my mother. She sometimes calls late at night, early in the morning, when she feels that I am restless, that I am up. She seems to be able to sense this. She seems to be able to gauge my moods even from far away.

“Are you up,” she asks me.

“Mother, you know I am,” I reply.

And we engage in small talk until I can hear the sleepiness creep into her voice. And when she no longer can hide her fatigue, when conversation becomes almost impossible because of her frequent yawning, she finally moves to end the call.

“Well, I have to go,” she says. “I can hardly keep my eyes open. Are you going to be alright?”

“I always have been,” I answer.

“Well, are you praying?,” she asks.

“Yes, mother. I am writing,” I answer.

And I resume pacing. And writing. Pacing. And writing. Pacing. And writing. Until sweat runs down my face like drops of blood and peace finally comes.

Thank you for thinking of me.

With only the greatest affection,

Maxwell Rene Reddick

Late winter, 2010

3:30 AM


msladydeborah said...

This is my first blog read of the day. I can fully relate to sleepless nights. However, I do not label my time up as a form of insominia.

For as long as I can remember my mother has always told me that when she was pregnant with me, I did not really stir around inside of her womb until after 9 at night.
Unless I am down low kind of tired at 9 in the evening I have a new burst of energy. I also had to work out training myself to rest at night.

I think that some people are born with a nocturnal bio clock. I have spent a considerable amount of time awake during the night. It feels very natural to my system. I just wanted to share my views on this subject with you.

I spend a lot of those hours in conversations with God. I sincerely believe that during that time the interruptions and distractions seem to be at rest and it is easier to say what is true, heartfelt and needed.

I enjoyed reading this post Max.

md20737 said...

Oh wow I really loved this post. It was so honest and open. Plus I am sucker for stories that involve family.

This makes me think of my dad. He cant sleep but 3-4 hours at a time so he keeps the tv on when he sleeps he wakes up a few times a night to watch it. Thats the only thing that puts him back to sleep. He's been like this for years. I never known him to sleep straight through the night.

My mother is also nocturnal. She doesnt rise before noon unless her job requires it. I got a terrible combo of the two. I am not a morning person, when I cant sleep I can only get about 3-4 hours of sleep in a day for a few weeks at a time. When I can actually sleep, I need large chunks of it to get back right. Like 9-12 hours to feel better. It really sucks not being able to sleep. Im glad you are being productive when you dont sleep, I just tweet away lol

Nicole said...

Thank you so much for this post Max!

I agree with msladydeborah...I definitely have one of those nocturnal bio clocks. I was born at night [8:26pm] and I'm my most creative at night. All kinds of amazing poems, and short stories flow from me once the moon is out. During the day, I feel like I'm on another planet. Nighttime is like home for me.

Anna Renee said...

Hi there Max! No worries! I don't call my early morning times insomnia either. For me the day is new and fresh and peaceful. I have started getting up really within the past 10 years or so, and with my graveyard shift job I have firmly established this. When Im at home, I like reading blogs, or writing, or watching my hubby when he's asleep on the couch. I like listening to him snore. Then when 4am comes around I feel that the peaceful time is about to run out and it's almost time for me to go to bed.
Max, keep on praying and writing!

Lafreya said...

Wow, all I can say is Wow. This post is so beautiful. I too don't sleep really at night and the early 3am seems that perfect time for writing. Those early hours are when my best writing happens and yes I feel the most peace.

River Glorious said...

When cats prawl at night
Max gets up to write

When peace comes at Dawn
Max begins to yawn

Normally, when I have nothing to say, I say nothing. Today, however, this popped into my brain.

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