What I do in my sleep

Yesterday I had coffee with a friend who has more confidence in me than I have in myself (I hope you have one or more of those friends). We were talking about a band I want to see that is playing nearby this summer. I mentioned having to miss the concert because I already accepted an invitation to speak at an event that same day. My friend, knowing the topic of the talk, said, “you could give that talk in your sleep.”

Of course the intent of this phrase is to suggest that someone has done something so many times or has such a deep understanding that doing it requires very little effort. (Check out this NPR article if you want to know what people can actually do in their sleep). My friend intended this comment – and I received it – as a compliment.

The reality, though, is that the things that may appear to require so little effort I could do them in my sleep are the very things I have lost sleep over. I’ve either sacrificed sleep and gained skill (like every teenager who gets up early every day of summer vacation for swim team practice or stays up too late playing a favorite game or jamming with friends) or I’ve mulled the idea, topic, or situations over in my head late into or during the middle of the night (how could I present this idea more persuasively?).

Whether and how well I do things is the result of intention and practice that ironically has cost me sleep in nights gone by. What I do in my sleep, when I can get it, is sleep. And gosh, I love sleep.