I find it strange we emulate the dead when we go to sleep. We assume sleeping positions, close off some final thoughts, and next thing you know, rest is allowing the body to stand still.
For now, our coffins are comfortable pillows, and our mattresses are the foundation for our body to stop.
Eternal rest isn’t as comfortable, according to the coffins I’ve seen: oaken wood slabs nailed as long boxes. Sometimes painted white or black. There could be a cross on the top, or another symbol of God. They are letters to send these bodies to heaven. The souls are the content for which God can read once they arrive.
But I love my envelope. I received these new pillows recently as a gift, complete with lavender covers, and they put me to rest when my head touches the surface. Cover me with a blanket and I will act the same as the rest of them.
But really, what is the difference between sleep and death?
When visions become real
A long time ago, visionaries would use dreams to interpret real life.
Snakes can mean omens. The faces of our ancestors can appear in our minds. In a modern context, what we consume (whether tv shows, movies, and more) result in borrowed entities that feed our dreamscape. If we watched Ghibli movies our entire lives, that’s going to shape the paracosm from which our imaginary characters exist.
It expands the use of symbolism. Most religious symbols tend to deal with human concepts (struggle, perseverance, the cycle of birth and death), and this is a final stamp on one’s journey. That was entertainment centuries ago - joy can be found in the self-fulfillment and satisfaction of one’s life, and normally that can be found through God.
The affirmation of the above then results in a snowball effect - any priest that successfully predicts what happens next in their rituals, dreams, visions, and more, further encapsulates the belief that what they can sense and visualize is true.
To an extent, maybe. But as an absolute? I’m not so sure myself.
But when we lose that possibility, that is when we are no different than the living dead.
To take a break
I take a lot of naps throughout the week. It might be because of my sporadic work schedule (strike while the iron is hot, and the passion is burning), but I’ve split my sleep into two phases: a nap during the day, and a short sleep during the night.
The nap is when I take a break. It’s necessary. So much is going on in our worlds, both external and internal, that processing it all requires doing nothing. I do a lot of nothing during my waking hours, because all the work happens in my head.
To take a break then, is to allow the physical body to rest while the mind keeps going. While I’m playing with ideas, solving puzzles, introducing questions, and exploring what-ifs, I’m snoring in bed. The air on is on and I’m snuggled up inside my blanket.
But it’s work. You may not call it a break because I’m thinking about these things, but I don’t believe that. What we spend our time on is part of our lives. To label and dissociate work from our livelihood is flawed thinking. It assumes that there must be a barrier there for our sakes. I get that - it’s good to get work-life balance. But really, in our lives we have work. So it’s life balance, except that it’s split between obligations, pursuits, and desires.
I have chosen my work to fit all three, and therefore it captures my attention. It’s fun. I take breaks by having fun, work happens to have second-order benefits to my mental meandering.
On the other hand, taking a break could be shifting attention towards something more physical. I can be doing calisthenics that require full focus. I could be not thinking about work stuff at all. There is no time loss, it’s fine. This is my desire.
Taking a break is a natural tool to enjoy life in all of its wonderful flavors.
How close is sleep to Death?
We’re not really making any memories while in dormancy. The only thing our bodies do to make sure that core activity– the act of making memories – is alive is by dreaming.
Death then, is the ceasing of dreams.
And even now, we receive nightmares: the worst of them all, yet they still hold some element of the visionary’s craft in them. Could those demons be people in your reality? Are those monsters emotions made tangible? Do I bring my conflict into my imagination?
If I were to invent a figure for this phenomenon, there would be two sides to the Mask of Death, where it is merely a synonym for what happens after the Dream ends. It’s an ending. There is nothing beyond it. It is a void that needed to be described, so we can prepare ourselves for the worst of manifested Fears.
The Mask off Death is both beautiful and ugly, but they serve the same function. They provide us rest, according to the conditions that befall us. The side that shows depends. The beauty of Dream would compel us to sleep soundly. The gaze of Death would paralyze us into eternal submission.
Anything after that, most commonly known as the Afterlife, is probably something out of the scope of this universe and is further pointless to pursue.
What is true rest then?
True rest is when we are awake, alive, and in the midst of our most relaxed selves. It is when we are conscious but recovering our energy at the same time.
I tend to really rest in cold air: sipping on a hot drink, looking out into the mountain. Snowfall is optional, but highly recommended. If I look out into that view, I see vistas of the world, and in its reflection myself. Earth is the mirror to my living. That clarity is rest. It’s knowing I am where I want to be right now.
And that’s when I take a nap. Dream would welcome me, and Death would await in impatient silence.