Dreams are powerful tools that can help guide anyone to success and happiness. They represent some cherished aspiration, an ultimate ideal of achievement.

The word sylvan refers most directly to a setting associated with the woods. Reflecting on the vigorous life that abounds in sylvan settings is a very powerful force in my life. For me, this word evokes feelings of transcendence, clarity, and unity.

A Sylvan Dream is a dynamic compilation of my life dream. It is an attempt to seek out and document the truth, beauty, and clarity that exists in this world.

Friday, July 4, 2008

For the Love of Early Mornings

With each change in my lifestyle, I tend to experience large changes in my sleeping habits, but a few things generally remain constant: I rarely sleep much, other people think my sleeping habits are rather crazy, and my internal clock appears to not run in accordance with a common schedule.

A sharp pain in my crotch shocked me to life. As I squeezed the epicenter of this quaking pain, hoping to kill whatever was biting this very important appendage, I reached over my head with my other hand, frantically fumbling through the dark for my headlamp. The pain subsided as my numb fingers felt for the switch of my headlamp, and I hoped I had killed the intruder. Even in a cabin covered in window screening, in a bed beneath a fine layer of mosquito netting, and beneath several sheets, insects are as pervasive as the oppressive the humidity here. They find their way to my body during the night, and while I am able to almost completely avoid itching all day long, I awake well before sunrise, scratching at these blemishes with abandon.
Lifting up my sheets, I slid my shorts down to inspect the damage, to see three reddish brown dots glinting in the light. When I was in Australia for a semester, we had a Tropical Disaster Game, in which students were given points for the intensity and frequency with which they encountered such tropical disasters as malaria, denge fever, box-jelly stings, ticks, leeches, stinging trees, snakes, etc. As I stared down my pants at these three ticks happily anchored in my ‘man-parts’ I was again reminded of winning this game several years ago. The amount of ticks and leeches that found their way to my genitals over a semester is what put me on the podium.
“You gotta be kidding me,” I half chuckled through an incredulous grimace as I sat up in my bed. I contemplated getting up for a few minutes to go get my tweezers at my desk in the lab until another shot of penetrating pain shocked me even more awake, and I decided to get up. After throwing on my damp field clothing, I slid my shoes on, shoved a rum bottle cap and candle into my pocket, and headed out of my cabin. Stumbling up the sandy path towards the lab at 230 am, mosquitoes and other insects buzzed before my headlamp, periodically landing on my face. Just after blowing one of these mosquitoes away from my lips, something flashed in front of my face and I felt a faint puff of air against my lips. Before I could realize what happened, again the bat flitted through the light, snatching another insect from the air, inches from my face.

I have been waking up early a lot lately. The amount of sleep I get here is rather ridiculous compared to what I am used to. While it is getting light around 430 or 5 back home, it gets light here around 6 all year, which means it also gets dark about the same time since we are in the tropics - the land of constantly unchanging sun. The lights cut out here when the electricity cuts out, which cuts out when Marco shuts off the generator, at about 930 in the evening. At this time, everyone usually filters off to his or her room to prepare for bed. Some read or write for a while under the light of their headlamp or candle, but most people are asleep very early.
The last two weeks I have been finding myself waking up around 230 am, after a solid 5-6 hours of sleep, which is what I have been used to for about 7 years now. I lay there for thirty minutes or so, waiting to fall back asleep, and suddenly wake back up at 430 to my alarm telling me it is time to get ready for work, and I feel completely groggy and confused. In college I had developed a method to get myself out of bed and out of my room as soon as I awoke in the morning any time after 5am, whether with my alarm or not. This worked rather well for me. My productivity in college went way up, I often woke up before my alarm, and I found myself rarely getting tired or grumpy during the days. So, I have decided to embrace this lifestyle again while I am here in the Peru, even if it means getting up at 230am. I figured what better morning to resume this practice than when I woke up to the shocking pain of three insects sinking into the softest flesh on my body.
Within the grasp of my tweezers, all of the ticks came out completely painlessly in less than a minute. I then dug a fingernail into each one, cutting them in half, and flicked their pieces into the darkness around me. I find it odd that ticks down here sincerely hurt when they bite, while most of their North American counterparts can sink well into our flesh without detection for days.

Down in the comedor, I found some matches in the kitchen next to the gas stove, lit a match, and held it to the bottom of my candle momentarily, then pressed it to the inside of the rum cap until it held fast. My nose wrinkled involuntarily and I exhaled sharply as a tendril of sulphury smoke invaded my nostrils. As I sat and read, little explosions puffed from the flame. Mosquitoes fell onto the table next to the candle, stiff legs in the air, no wings left; all of them a minute Icarus in their own right, having flown too close to the sun illuminating the paper and pen before me.

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