I heard about some research indicating that humans aren’t very good at anticipating or remembering what it’s like to feel other ways besides how we’re feeling now. Like how when it’s 120 degrees in your car because you forgot to park in the shade in July and the AC stopped working in 1997, you drive home with your sweaty hands slipping off the wheel and can’t seriously believe that it will ever be January again because “too cold” is clearly not a state that exists in the world.
This idea makes sense to me because it’s usually how I feel about food. When I’m stranded in the half-mile line at Chick-Fil-A, likely to waste away at any moment, all I can think about is the last time I had access to a veritable smorgasbord and how foolish I was not to eat more of it to protect against this cruel starvation.
On the other hand, when I am suffering under the weight of my “one of everything” approach to potlucks, I become convinced that no food will ever appeal to me for the rest of my life and I might as well spend my ice cream budget on posters of Han Solo.
This phenomenon is also to blame for my perpetual self-inflicted sleep deprivation. I can spend the entire day exhausted, doze off in my Cup O’ Noodles, bite through my lip trying to stay alert for a staff meeting, skip the gym on account of a potentially fatal lack of muscle control, and drag myself home willing to miss dinner in favor of an extra half-hour of sleep...but first I have to check my e-mail just for a second in case I have another Nigerian lottery prize waiting.
Now the internet has already won.
Google’s home page has Pac-Man on it, so I have to play that for a while. Then I’m not sure when Ms. Pac-Man was introduced, so I need to check Wikipedia. That article has a link to Atari, so now I have to look up that one game with the castles. I’m definitely awake now, so I might as well draw some pictures for my blog. Then I need to check four or five other blogs in case they have new posts, and I should watch that video my brother sent me again. That reminds me of the book I was reading, and I can fit in one more chapter before my reserve back-up emergency late bedtime. Or maybe two more chapters. Heck, I’m already up this late, so what’s another fifty pages? Besides, it’s not like I’ll be sleepy tomorrow—I’m awake now, and it’s the middle of the night, so how could I not be awake at 7 a.m.?
So the next day I arrive at work feeling slightly less alert than the furry take-out enchiladas in the breakroom fridge.