Maybe you’re just on the margin of sleep. Or maybe sleep won’t come. My Night Vision series is about the patterns you finally see after prolonged staring into the dark.
I spend my share of the wee small hours staring at moonshadows and trying to make sense of things. Within The Eye explores that sleepy-wakeful state where images dance in front of your closed eyes. For me, it’s more like seeing shapes in clouds than like the entoptic images ancient people once painted on cave walls. For Within The Eye, I used recycled metal and plant materials to create marks on fabric, then worked into the patterns I found.
On nights after I had been stitching on this piece for many hours, when I closed my eyes to sleep, I didn’t see clouds. I was in the cave, with the story of a journey to share. Sometimes, when you’re stitching, you pick up the threads of those dreams to follow while you’re wide awake.
When insomnia turns me from an early bird into a night owl, what’s almost worse than not sleeping is knowing how I’ll feel the next day: Recycled, maybe. But probably not renewed. In the Night Vision series, you might detect a recycled sheet or pillowcase, the edge of an old blanket, a dish towel, a table cloth, the pocket of what was once a garment.
As I lie awake, I wish my flitting thoughts could be replaced with keen vision and the night owl’s legendary wisdom. I feel like a dodo, comically snared in the wrong place and time. Sometimes it takes a lunar spotlight to show me I’ve been trying to be something besides myself.
Occasionally I still dream it’s the day of an important math exam, and I am unprepared. It’s silly. I’m old enough to know you can start each day with a clean slate. It’s just harder after a night of weird dreams or insomnia.
Whatever storm of insecurity brings on the math nightmare will pass.
In its wake, I’ll do what I always do: Start putting things in order again.
When sleep comes more nights than not, or more of a night than not, I’m grateful. When it feels at least possible to wake, look out the window, then drift back off to sleep, I don’t mind the waking.
Out here in the country, there’s little point in closing drapes in the bedroom. I lie next to the window under a curtain of stars finer than any lace I might hang over the glass to keep the wonder out. You may have the same view.