The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
(Excerpted from “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening“, Robert Frost)
I’m going to take a wild guess here and say that not many of you have become hypothermic while stranded in a snowstorm in the middle of nowhere. (Just for the record, I haven’t, either.) If you ever do find yourself in this situation, just remember one thing: don’t go to sleep. When your body temperature drops below a certain level, and you begin to feel tired and heavy all over, and all you want to do is close your eyes and sink your head into that soft, fluffy pillow of snow…that’s when sleep means certain death.
To relax is to put yourself in the ultimate danger, here. Compliance is fatal. And yet…it’s so easy. It’s so much easier to close your eyes and let yourself fade away into rest—and oblivion—than to keep struggling, if not with eyes wide open then from one blink to the next. Everything is telling you to board the sweet, cotton candy cloud of dreams: your eyelids, falling like blinds; the giant pillow, waiting underneath; the drifting flakes, promising to cover you in a perfect quilt; your body, begging for relief. But then what?
Though slightly dramatic as far as extended metaphors go, sometimes I feel like that 2nd-stage hypothermic wanderer. Only instead of my body wanting to shut down and rest, it’s my mind and personality.
I’ve been thinking about this lately, especially during instances when the following monologue runs through my head: “Okay, so should I ‘play feminist’ and say something here, or just let it go? Do I want to ruin the fun? Will it even make a difference? Is it really that big of a deal? Oh who cares, whatever!”
Basically, I’ve found, ignorance is bliss. Apathy is peace. Indifference is tranquility, and obliviousness is happiness.
Sleeping, not thinking, would mean being able to appreciate the humour in a joke instead of being annoyed by its premise; able to be chill/cool/relaxed/generic instead of worked up and politicized; able to play along/get along/sing along without feeling like an ever-so-slightly hypocritical sell-out. Sleeping (or is it dreaming?) would mean being able to laugh at everything my friends find funny, and like/respect my capoeira teachers without doubts, and watch a certain new Pixar film without feeling the need to roll my eyes at every gender stereotype along the way, and just enjoy the cuteness.
When you’re asleep, you don’t feel angry, indignant, incensed, or infuriated. When you don’t think or don’t care, you’re not bothered by injustice; you can read the news with cool, desensitized nonchalance; and the full weight of a systemic, worldwide, fundamental, political, religious, societal, deep-rooted undermining, suppressing, assault, and attack on you and/or yours in all his slightest and heaviest forms leaves you well undisturbed.
But at the same time, lest we forget…sleep is death. And that storm will still come to bear down on you, in some way or form, no matter how much you ignore or disregard it.
I once read a quote that began, “Finding feminism is like discovering the Matrix”*—and it is spot on. Who do you think leads happier lives in the movie, those inside the Matrix or those outside of it? But who, after knowing, goes back? Who would purposely commit mental and intellectual, and possibly ethical, suicide?
So yes, sleep would be nice. And, as I said, easy. (Because what’s easier than default?) But ignorance and apathy are two things I hate/fear probably just as much as, if not more than, misogyny and other types of discrimination. So, let’s just say…it’s a good thing I’m used to all-nighters.
*“Finding feminism is like discovering the Matrix. You can’t believe you didn’t notice all this stuff, you can’t believe no one told you how fucked up things are. You feel angry for knowing, angry for having not known. It’s such a harsh transition to make. You don’t just gently start to pick up on misogyny here and there. Once the floodgates are open you are smacked relentlessly with realization after realization. It can be devastating and it can feel like the only way not to drown is to find a really big crew and a really big boat, put your head down—and paddle.” -Julia Gonzalves