Default suggestions and corrections are often frustrating and sometimes humorous. I supply plenty of material because I’m the worst typist ever. On my tiny IPhone, I have the excuse that my fingers are too big for that puny keypad. “P” is too close to the edge and more often I hit “O” by mistake. And “M”? Forget it. It’s right next to the delete arrow, so that’s what usually happens. In my enthusiasm, I admit I overuse the word “love,” but almost without fail, “live” is what I tap, turning a buoyant comment into an existential observation. A chorus of audible grunts of disgust always accompanies my typing.
On email, I can’t blame defaults, and I tend to overlook the warnings of green wavy underlines. Proofreading is a necessity to be approached with the keen scrutiny of Robert Mueller pursuing a lead. Recently, though, my typo gave birth to an incisive new word.
My friend Otie and I had exchanged Christmas greetings and commented on the joys of visiting grandchildren. Otie wrote, “We have a houseful, and some of them get up early.”
Leisurely mornings are my favorite retirement perk, but waking to grandson Paul’s sweet voice and dear little face still scrunched and adjusting to morning light is a gift. In my response to Otie, I told him how much I would miss that and added, “As you say thoughtcrimes, sleeping in will be good.”
I didn’t catch the typo and Otie made no mention of it in his next email. I happened to see it while reviewing the thread for a quick refresher before writing back a few days later. I had no idea what I’d intended to say, and told him as much.
Otie has a philosopher’s soul and he did not take my finger-slip lightly. He mused about a conversation he’d had with our mutual friend, Moo, who’d said, “It’s not the end of the world, it’s just the middle of the night.”
Was this a commentary on our troubling times and a “this too shall pass” insight, or merely an insomniac’s lament? Otie pursued the quote with the persistence of one who has spent countless wakeful hours in the dark, a victim of thoughtcrimes and their not-so-stealthy theft of sleep. “Problems are magnified by darkness and a little confusion, which leads to more sleep disruption, allowing time for more problems to try to take over our souls, and soon, dawn arrives. But I have taken a certain comfort in Moo’s theory, and if I can remember to repeat it a few times, I can bore myself back to sleep.”
Ah, if only I could bore myself back to sleep! For me, “it’s not the end of the world” leaves plenty of room for post-apocalyptic scenarios that are not the end, but gruesome enough, so that mantra gives me no comfort.
It’s usually around 1:16 that my eyes fly open. I go to the bathroom for a quick pee and then snuggle back in bed praying slumber will re-find me. Ha! As if. The hours tick by as I manufacture heated conversations with family, friends, Republican leaders, and Trump himself, working myself into an adrenalin-fueled fury that leaves no room for sleep. Or, hearing my beloved Dave snuffle and snore beside me, I begin with a smile and gratitude, then hustle myself along a spiraling path to tears and what would I do without him? To-Do lists can wrestle sleep to the mat with ease, and a quick mental reminder turns into an exercise in obsessive repetition to make sure I don’t forget whatever pressing task I’ve come up with. Guilt, too, is a rich well of sleeplessness. I can dive in there and swim in that heavy muck for hours. Or, I think of warnings for my children after I’ve read the latest health scare in “The Week.” Thoughtcrimes!
Dear Otie is more optimistic than me. In so many words, he said that branding these ruminations “thoughtcrimes” offers the vigilant an opportunity to recognize the thief, seize him by the scruff of the neck, and banish him from the bedroom. My friend closed with this comfort, “When I wake up early and start worrying about something that isn't going to happen and that I can't do anything about anyway, instead of the end of the world thing, I'll quickly dismiss my troubles with, "Thoughtcrimes. Sleeping in will be good."