Insomnia of the Red Rose

I have been told that the brain is this type of super computer. That it stores knowledge and visual footage in the worlds smallest data base. It processes the information and the memories and keeps them tucked away until we need them. All the while constantly telling our heart to beat and out lungs to breathe. I suppose if this is true then the mind is kind of like the nerdy guy with glasses sitting behind the desk controlling everything.

sleeping460Insomnia happens when the mind falls asleep and forgets to shut everything down first. The lights are left on and the television is flickering in the corner. Thoughts are left alone to move about the brain without anyone yelling at them to go to bed.

Our eyes act as a lens to a camera of sorts. The mind takes pictures repetitively, yet only saves to the brains hard drive those photographs that have some kind of significant meaning to our lives. Some images that we may never wish to see again, some images we wish to see again and again. And as the mind sleeps the brain shuffles through these archives and files everything neatly away. Yet when the mind forgets to hit the upload button and falls asleep in the chair, the body reacts to each image with the accompanying emotion for it does not realize that the mind is not in control. When the mind remembers to turn off the lights and go to bed then the body ignores the shuffling around and simply falls peacefully into a state of dreaming.

But as I lay here wide awake. The hands of the clock ticking the hours away like they were merely minutes. The auto pilot is malfunctioning. The mind did not just fall asleep but stepped out for a night-cap with that pretty little mind that works in the brain next to me. And the pictures are being tossed around the darkened room like an endless game of 51 pick-up. (I’ve always been one card shy).

Some of the pictures hold moments of joy and keep me awake if only to relive and remember.


A picture of the smile upon my child’s face. (The first time I knew it wasn’t just gas). A picture of the eyes I gazed into, when I heard the words “I do”.


A picture taken on the top of a mountain in a West Virginia Valley. (After a half of days climb). The grin on that Russian tennis player’s face, when I asked her if I could have one of her towels, and she reached for the stack of clean and folded ones, and I said, “No, a sweaty one”.

Maria Sharapova sweating

The picture of a naked butt, as it ran across a crescent beach, jumping into the midnight water as I followed not far behind.


The picture of that rusty old truck, and it’s beautiful glowing brake lights, as it slowed down in front of me after four days of walking down that endless Texas highway.

The picture of the look that transcended my wife’s face, just after that fifth and final push. And the picture of my youngest child as she heads out the door, starting a life all her own and leaving my wife and I all alone in our home….(Okay that picture is yet to be taken but a man can dream right?)


But it’s the images that haunt the brain, that we keep tucked far inside. Those images that can only come out at night, when the mind has fallen asleep. As we get older and the photographs get many, we find it harder and harder to keep control of our thoughts. Like an album overflowing, the snap shots spill out all over the floor. Pictures you wish you could simply delete, but stay embedded in the mother board, and cause many a sleepless night. These are commonly referred to as “Cobwebs in the attic”, or “Skeletons in the closet”. Not to be confused with “Bats in the belfry”, (Which could however be the end result of the first two).


The Picture of a broken bicycle lying in the middle of the road, taken just after that little boy was hit by that car that was going way too fast, during the Summer of my freshman year. The picture of the tube that fed the lifeless body of the first person I had ever loved. The picture of the smirk on Todd Cunningham’s face as he blackened my eye on that dirty playground my third grade year.


The picture of the needle sticking out of that purple arm. On the day I found my friend all alone within his room, with pictures of his own, scattered all about his floor. The picture of the candles lighting up the sky, at the vigil with the parents, on the night those children died. The picture of the tears that ran down my children’s face, as their grandfather was put to rest.
The photograph that was ruined by a negative of red, when I opened up that door and saw another man.

Newtown-Vigil (1)

The picture of the single red rose earring that sat upon my pillow. Not from the one that got away but from the one I never had. Not a single spoken word, just a thank you and good-bye in the token of a red red rose.


Good night everyone, sweet, sweet dreams.

About paulsdahlman

Born in Southern California, raised on the road and now growing roots in New England. I am on the journey of my lifetime. May the footprints I leave behind form the words to my story.
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