Every night I hear it. Doesn’t matter if I wake up at 2 am, 4 am, or 5 am, it’s always there. I know this because I’ve woken up at all those times at some point in the last week. And that’s when I hear him. “Cock a doodle do”, that familiar rooster sound.
I honestly don’t know if the rooster has always been here, living somewhere vaguely nearby. I’m usually asleep at night, something that feels like a wild concept as I stare at the dark ceiling and listen to the stupid bird. Sleep has become a strange idea. It’s not like I really have anything to do tomorrow, so what does it matter if I stay up all night? The restaurant I work at is closed, so I don’t have work. The theater we have weekly rehearsals and monthly shows at is closed so I can’t do that. Production is at a complete standstill so I have no auditions to speak of. I can’t even go anywhere or do anything that is nonessential. So, what is the point? Normally a good night’s sleep is needed for a productive day-but there is nothing on the agenda for the next day…or the day after that…or the day after that.
When I wake up in the middle of the night it’s innocent enough. I hear a sound or I have to pee. And then…my mind wakes up. And then I can’t shut it up. My financial worries, the state of the world, someone I love getting sick, what this means for my business and my mental health. How am I supposed to make money? What random thoughts can I Google right now?
I do try to go back to sleep. But there he is, crowing away. I have to give it to him, distracting me from my overactive brain. “Cock a doodle do”, all of the sudden all I can think about is the stupid rooster. How dumb does this rooster have to be that it doesn’t even know IT’S THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT? Why do you need a rooster in downtown LA? The rooster doesn’t seem to care about my sleep anymore than I do. He’s saying through his balking “time is just a construct” and “you are not a functioning part of society if you aren’t contributing anything”. And now I realize I really do need some sleep if I am interpreting these rooster caws as judgments. Maybe he’s here to serve a purpose though. To remind me that life is out of my control. My life has been upended. But not for nothing. In the vast, sprawling earth, I am insignificant. But right here, right now, I am needed for a specific task. I have to stay home and stay away from people so that we can slow the spread of disease, and not overwhelm hospitals. My work is nonessential, and it can wait. My life must be put on pause for the greater good of the world. And as I sit here in the dark, staring at the ceiling, there is a friend, somewhere nearby, vocally expressing his discomfort and uncertainty too.