I can lose sleep over just about anything. As my husband lies next to me practically dead to the world with his hand splayed across any bare skin of mine he can find, and the dog is curled up somewhere between my rear and the back of my knees, and the cat is curled between my arm and my torso with his head bent back so that he can be nose to nose with me, I can lie there for hours upon hours, with my mind racing. Sometimes it’s justified but most of the time I can’t even pinpoint what is wrong.
I have tried everything to sleep. Melatonin, lavender, white noise, sleep masks, ear plugs, TV, no TV, magnesium, warm baths, turkey sandwiches, hot tea, and so on. But, insomnia is a bitch, and that bitch and I are tight.
For the most part, I don’t mind. I have learned to just accept being tired most of the time. I love to read, so that helps, and in the summertime there is Big Brother After Dark so at least I am distracted. What I do mind is when my heart is beating out of my chest in the middle of the night for no apparent reason whatsoever. This used to be such a common occurrence. I would rub myself down with essential oils, drink a large glass of water and even take a shower, but in the end, the answer was always the same.
I am certainly no pill popper, I love doing things the natural way. But I also have a crippling fear of flying so I tend to have a few Xanax lying around from having to travel.
I realized recently that I haven’t had any heart-beating-out-of-my-chest episodes in quite some time. I still don’t sleep like a normal human being, but even being in the middle of the nature with my spidey senses on high alert to all the scary creatures lurking around, my anxiety level has pretty much hit an all time low.
There is something about the pace of mountain life, how everything just slows down or stops completely. You realize that not many of the things that make us crazy in this life actually matter. Do I have to go to the store today? Do I need to watch that video? Must I clean that right now? Does my kid have to have something to do outside of the house almost every night of the week? The answer is almost always no. But, should I sit outside with a cup of coffee and look at the many changing faces of the mountain? Could I possibly ignore the stupid dishes and play Mario with my kids? Should I skip cleaning the cabin and sit in the jacuzzi with my husband instead? Can my kids just go outside? The answer is almost always yes.
Simply put, mountains are the new Xanax, and I am not the first one to realize it. In fact, I’m late to my own party. While I have been concerned about making things perfect and making sure that we have enough exciting things to do and see, others come here and breathe a sigh of relief that they are away from the noise, the technology, and the race of life that no one actually wins.
We had a mountain full of hurricane evacuees this last week. People that spent the better part of 24 hours just trying to get to safety without running out of gas. They arrived frazzled and exhausted, stressed out beyond what they thought they were capable of. We put food and water and wine in each of their cabins to help them relax the first night. After a good long nights sleep, we met everyone for dinner at our favorite place. Every single guest showed up. They were rested, refreshed and light-hearted. While the news played in the background of Irma reaching land, we drank beer and played cornhole. They told stories of home and the horror that was I-75, all with a smile on their face because they were safe and comfortable and they couldn’t really ask for a better place of refuge than the mountains of Tennessee.
What has taken me months to figure out has taken others just minutes. They come here, rest up, and get outside. I warn them of all the things that crawl and slither, and they look at me like I have four heads. They don’t mourn the loss of Netflix for the weekend, they purchase two hundred-dollar boots and hike, literally, all the trails. They talk about when they will be back before they have even finished unpacking to begin with. And while I have been saying that this place may actually kill me, they say things like, “I could just die here.”
I know that living here is indeed different from just vacationing here, after all, that is how all of this started, a vacation. But somewhere along the way I lost sight of what made me love this place to begin with. It’s taken countless guests and friends to remind me.
The reason for choosing this new life was… a new life. Not the old one. Not the crazy rat race or the comforts of familiarity, but of peace and serenity and adventure.
I have seen more demon snakes in the last few weeks than probably the last several years of my life combined. And though that means yes, this place is literally crawling with them, it also means I have actually been outside to see them. I may still drive around in my four-wheeler in flip-flops and a polka dot pencil skirt, but I’ve also been out there, in the woods, with the nature in real shoes and a camera, ready to see it all.
And while I will never get used to the spiders the size of Aragog, and I will never stop thinking that all snakes are the literal Devil and that they spend all their time plotting my death, I will get used to the fact that this place has awakened my soul and given me rest. Maybe not sleep, but rest.
Sleep is overrated. No one can sleep through the alarm cocks anyway.