Various studies report that 65 percent of American society is sleep deprived. The causes include relentless job schedules, burning the candle at both ends and the inability to turn your mind off once you go to bed.
Now of these, I can identify specifically with that thing about not being able to turn my mind off.
And sometime back I read a proposed non-drug remedy to short circuit this deep-thought process.
It suggested picking a soothing song and repeating the lyrics over and over in your head. The idea was that the repetition would tend to become hypnotic, phasing you into sleep.
So one night I thought I would give it a shot. I picked "Michael Row Your Boat Ashore," and started repeating the lyrics in my head. But because my profession causes me to be rather analytic, skeptical and even cynical occasionally, repeating the lyrics had the opposite effect.
First of all, who the heck is Michael?
In my whole life no one has ever told me why Michael was in that boat. And why did there seem to be a chorus singing "Hallelujah?" Had Michael just learned to row? Was some sort of river monster after him? Was the Crocodile Hunter involved?
And how old is this song?
I conclude that it goes way back or Michael would have had an Evinrude. Based on the lyrics, Michael is in the Jordan River. So, I sense some Biblical connotation. I don't know if it was a spiritual or just something to sing around the campfire to take one's mind off mosquitoes and a warm bed.
There also seems to be some confusion in this song. A woman is advised to lend a hand. "Sister, help to trim the sails, Hallelujah."
Okay, is it a row boat or sail boat? If Michael is rowing, there must not have been much wind that day or else he needs more speed because something or someone is after him. It doesn't say that this woman is actually his sister. Could be his girlfriend and her brother is chasing them. I dunno.
We are reminded that the Jordan River is "deep and wide." Maybe that footnote is a scare tactic just to get his adrenaline pumping. Row Michael! row!
Obviously, Michael is looking for a better place to go, no matter what the motivation because the lyrics also say there is "milk and honey on the other side, Hallelujah."
And that's all well and good if Michael is not lactose intolerant nor diabetic. There's just so much about Michael we don't know.
Rather than hypnotic, this song was frustrating, and I half expected Michael to get hung up on a sand bar, and the woman would start yelling "I told you so!"
So I got out of bed and went out on the back porch and lay in my swing. Bullfrogs had a chorus going on in the little pond behind our house. So I started thinking about "Froggy Went A Courtin'." I knew it was purely a fictional ditty, and it didn't have to make sense, therefore I didn't have to be analytical or skeptical. I imagined Kermit and Miss Piggy cutting loose on a dobro and banjo. If it's fiction and totally implausible, might as well go "whole hog." Excuse me, Miss Piggy.
Somewhere in those lyrics I drifted off to sleep. But I woke up with a terrible crink in my neck. I swapped one problem for another.
I think the bottom line here may be that there is just too darn much to think about these days with the economy in the tank, corporate scandals abounding, being at war and wondering who will be the next person voted off an island -- not counting Haiti's Aristide.
Maybe the answer to my problem is a tin roof with a sprinkler system mounted on it. In its purest form, that worked for me when times were much simpler. And besides, if I got hypnotic from "Froggy Went A Courtin'," there's that danger that I could be going around all day sporadically saying "ribbit" and seeing how far I can jump.
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