Two nights ago, Olivia slept through the entire night, and the other three kids were at grandma’s. That may be the first full night of sleep we’ve had since Olivia’s birth: 400 days of sleep deprivation.

Yesterday I felt superhuman. For about an hour. Then I went to put my new powers to work, and it happened. The oh-so-familiar battle.

I may have been naive to think all I needed was sleep, and then I’d be “back on track”. I’d be productive and efficient and strong and sharp. I’d finish all the unfinished things. All the things my “true self” longs to do, if it just had some sleep. I should have realized, giving strength back to my true self would also mean a revitalized false self.

I felt superhuman for about an hour. The rest of the day I felt more like a crazy person. I felt twitchy. My mind was in 40 places at once. I couldn’t focus on anything. Every good idea was met with two or three reasons why it would never work. Schizophrenic. I might as well have not gotten any sleep! So frustrating.

Then, last night we had one of the worst nights of sleep ever. I may have slept an hour. Around 5am this morning, still awake, patting Olivia’s back, I felt angry at her. I know that’s terrible. It’s obviously not her fault. But I was just so close… to something. To a normal life, to a productive life, to a life where I make plans and then carry them out. Where I’m a productive and successful human being. A strong man.

Of course, this is all completely contrary to everything I’ve been learning and writing and saying at my shows for the past year. But just because you know something doesn’t mean you understand it — or believe it.

Around 5:20 Olivia fell asleep, and I couldn’t.

It’s not her fault. It’s not anyone’s fault. It just is. That’s a mature thought: It just is. This is life and I accept it. It’s not something to be changed or manipulated. It manipulates us. All we can do is let go and surrender to the current, trusting its ability to take us where we need to go.

“In repentance and rest is your salvation. In quiet and trust is your strength.” Our strength lies in our ability to let go.

Not in our ability to accomplish. Not in our ability to impress, or look good, or win.

This is true when we’re walking zombies, when we’re sick on our back, when we’re grieving. It’s also true when we’re at the top of the world and all approval and all resources are ours.

Our strength lies in our ability to trust, not to control. To rest, be quiet and do nothing. To be still and not step in. Even when there are tornados all around us.

Yesterday was a good reminder: Whenever (if ever) we get our strength back, our sleep back, our band back, our time back… our posture of quiet, rest, and trust must remain the same.

This is an excerpt from Nathan’s book, SO AM I. Check out the book and Nathan’s website: Nathan Peterson, Singer Songwriter | Official Website

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Nathan Peterson

Chicago-based singer-songwriter Nathan Peterson has been creating music as Hello Industry for two decades. After four album releases and numerous iterations of Hello Industry’s live show, including their fully classical Black and White concert, Nathan has stripped everything down to only a guitar, his voice, and a song. Nathan is currently celebrating the release of two solo albums and two books — So Am I: Life, Living, and Letting Go and Dance Again: Grief is Healing — about the life and passing of his daughter, Olivia, as well as his latest Single Release, Masks: a song about finding togetherness in the midst of covid. During Nathan’s 20 years of writing, recording, and performing, he has created a body of work which invites our culture to rest, here and now, in the midst of the storms of life. Nathan’s words and voice invite us inward, toward our own Center, where our fear is the loudest; where our strength and hope are their brightest. Born in Chicago and raised in Germany, Colorado, and the cornfields of Sycamore Illinois, Nathan now lives with his wife and 5 children in Chicago.

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