The uncle was a fisherman on the west coast of South Africa. Like most fishermen, he had lots of worries. What will the sea be like tomorrow? Will they be able to go out, or will bad weather keep they semi-idle on land? Add, if they go out, will they return safely? All these worries keep the uncle awake at night. Tossing and turning all night long.
“Why don’t you try to sleep? It’s late and tomorrow will be a tough day. You need rest.”
“I’m trying all I can, but I Can’t fall asleep. I just can’t.”
“You keep me awake. I can’t sleep if I don’t hear you snoring. And you shake the bed. How must I sleep? I need my rest too, you know.”
“Sorry. I’ll try to lie still.”
“You do that. And tomorrow I’ll take you to the pharmacy and get you some pills. We can’t go on like this.”
“Okay. Whatever you say.”
Early the next morning the aunty finished her housework, then drag her dear husband to Main Street where all the shops were. There were a few items on her list, but first of all they popped in at the pharmacy. They left with a small packet of sleeping pills and promised to see the doctor if the problem persisted.
That night, the uncle took his first sleeping pill, a tiny, disc shaped tablet that he swallowed with water. He slept like a log. And the aunty slept like a log too. Rested and refreshed, they woke just before sunrise, ready for a hard day’s work. And so it went. Every evening, the uncle took his tiny white sleeping pill and every night they both slept well.
On Saturday the married son and his family came to visit. They all had a great time, having a fishbraai, the uncle and aunty playing with the grandkids and generally having a good time. Exhausted the couple went to bed, the uncle did not take his pill. The daughter-in-law told them sleeping pills are not good. They are addictive. That scared the uncle and he decided to try once more to sleep without his pills, to which he became quite fond of, by now.
They did not have a good night. The tossing and turning went on until the small hours when the aunty got up and made coffee to start an early day. That night the uncle took his pill and they both slept well.
The next day, the uncle’s cousin called and told him to come visit, because he had something for him, but his car is broken and he cannot bring the stuff. It was more than half a day’s drive to his cousin’s place up north along the coast. Carefully the uncle packed a suitcase because he would have to sleep over. The aunty checked everything to make sure nothing was forgotten. The he kissed his wife and drove off along the dusty road.
The uncle reached his cousin’s place before dusk and called home to let the aunty know he was safe. The two cousins had a nice talk, the cousin’s wife prepared a humble but delicious meal and the three sat down on the back stoep to watch the darkening ocean in the distance. When it was bedtime, the uncle realiszed with shock that he forgot to pack his sleeping pills. Agonizing over his pills, he told his cousin his problem. Now what?
Being a man who could always devise a plan in difficult circumstances, the cousin asked him what did the pills look like? Small, round and white? Perhaps the cousin can help. Sending the uncle to the spare room telling him to get to bed, he went to the freezer. looking through the dead fish in the freezer, he chose one that had the right size eyes. carefully he wiggled one white eye from the fish’s face and dropped the fish back in the freezer. He washed the eye to remove the smell and took it with a glass of water to the uncle who was waiting in the spare room. The uncle swallowed the “pill” and slept like a log.
Back at home he told the aunty his cousin also suffered from sleeplessness, because he gave him one of his own pills.
My question: Don’t we get too used to things the make our lives easy and grab on to whatever seems to be doing the trick? If a fish eye can help for sleeplessness, anything can serve as a solution to a problem, as long as we don’t have to address the root of the problem, which would take a lot more effort.