I should fall asleep now. Close my eyes and wait.
If I try not to think of an elephant - or of anything else - eventually I"ll find myself, hours from now, twisting in this bed, slowly waking up, trying not to drool on the pillow or to kick the cat, thinking to myself that I could still get another hour if I just rolled over, kept my eyes closed and ignored the fact that I really need to pee.
As much as more sleep would be nice, more waking time would be nicer. That is because I have "stuff" to do. Every day (once I pee) I make a mental list called "things I'd like to accomplish today." Thankfully I'm not so anal that I actually write the list down. Even so, the list is very real, always near by, in my brain. Damn brain.
At the top of each and every day's list of "stuff" are my irreducible four double-ewes - "work, walk, wife and write". These are the things my life is really about. Unalliteratively you could think of these as "earn money, get exercise, devote time to my relationship with Leslie and do something creative". These are my essential daily goals.
I try to do some of each W every day. This is not always easy. The things one does everyday are the most important parts of life. My Four Dubs are are important stuff. Important stuff is still "stuff". This stuff is always on my daily mental list.
And lots of other stuff ends up on my daily list as well. That stuff is not so important in the long term. Sometimes it doesn't feel even the slightest bit important in the short term either.
Stuff can include taking out the garbage, shopping for pet food, gassing the car, mindlessly watching television in hopes of finding a good laugh, making "ice cream" out of over-ripe bananas, wondering why I'm not more successful than I am, washing the dishes, feeling lucky that I'm not a complete failure, browsing the net on my iPad, wondering if today would be a good day to make myself a martini, imagining what it would be like to be someone else, cleaning the cat box, dreaming about what a nice guy I'd be if I accidentally became a billionaire by winning the lottery. It's all stuff. It's the stuff of life.
Some stuff gets added to the mental list later in the day, on the spur of the moment. Stuff erupts. Suddenly. Sometimes unpredictably. Spilling coffee on the floor and having to wipe it up immediately? That's stuff. Just sitting in a chair thinking "it's okay to just be sitting in this chair." becomes stuff. Thinking "I could fall asleep in this chair." also becomes stuff. Actually falling asleep? Yes, that too.
Stuff is all inclusive. Everything is stuff. Stuff, stuff, stuff. It's all stuff. Life is filled with stuff. Some stuff gets in the way of getting other stuff done. Circular? You betcha. Would I wish for more time to do my stuff or for less stuff to do in the time I have. Dunno.
Once again, I'm back in bed, poking at my iPad. I could fall asleep right now. I really should fall asleep, simply close my eyes and try to drift off while not thinking of an elephant. It would be easy.
Exactly twenty-four hours have passed since I started this essay. I've done yet another day of stuff including, on this day, all four W's plus a few unexpected bits of other stuff. I killed a marauding ant colony in the kitchen and ran to the store for a carton of heavy cream because the one we had turned prematurely sour. I spent a while trying to understand why Linux crashes so much. I even found some time to edit this essay.
Now, however, I'm back in bed, finally lying between my wife and my cat, trying to convert the silly thoughts in my brain into conventional English. Personally I'd much rather fall asleep. Sleep would be better for me, but my brain is keeping me awake. It's my brain that is the problem. Damn brain.