Thursday, May 05, 2016

How Rob Bell Changed My Life

Rob Bell is an evangelical pastor and author. He's fallen out of favor with both those groups lately due to a couple of interesting theological stances he's taken, which have also given some more creative and speculative members of those same groups license to dream and explore. It's really some element of this second part that leads me to write today - not so much the theology (I promised it wouldn't be that kind of post) - although the notion that the world is bigger and more awesomely mysterious than our little mind boxes can fathom is certainly a theological idea.

A year or so ago I listened to a podcast with Rob (it was probably this Pete Holmes podcast, which is awesome, but also like a billion hours long so I didn't confirm). Anyway, the subject of alarm clocks came up. Rob said he hadn't used one in over a year, Pete took that as subtle bragging about how carefree Rob's bestselling-author, Southern California life is, then Rob corrected him with this crazy story.

Apparently, after some speaking gig, Rob got talking to a neurologist about Rob Bell type things and the neurologist said that our brains are just so much more complex and capable than we could ever imagine. He told Rob not to set an alarm, but to just go to bed each night thinking about the time he wants to wake up - consciously tell yourself when to wake up - and the brain will take care of it. Rob ended the story with a classic, "I haven't used an alarm in 18 months."

This seemed fantastic to me in every possible definition of the word. I was skeptical and intrigued. So sure enough, I tried it. I haven't used an alarm clock in almost two years. That's not true, I do still have not one, but two emergency alarms set so my daughter isn't late for school, but the only times they've been necessary are the nights when I forget to tell myself when to wake up. It's uncanny. Every time it's been within three minutes of the clock (and really, why would I believe the time on the clock over my own super awesome brain anyway?)!

Last night I even tested it, telling myself "wake up when the wife gets out of the shower," sure enough, the water turned off about 30 seconds after I woke up. It does really seem to be a conscious thing, though. If I just think of a time in passing at bedtime, it doesn't seem to work, but if I even tell myself once "wake up at _______," so long as I don't go into deep contemplation about something else before sleep, it's been fail safe.

I even sleep better and more deeply when I do it. I always wake up refreshed. Even if I go to bed at 1:30am and get up at 5:45, I'm tired at 10, sure, but I'm wide awake at 6.

This is a cool trick, and it makes for a great story, but it's also just nice to know there are things about our bodies (and thus, hopefully, our universe) than can still dazzle and amaze. I like living in a great big world - I also like that my body is keeping an eye on things, even when I'm asleep.

But mostly it's just awesome.

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