When I was a kid, to overcome my fear of the dark, I would countdown from 30 starting the moment I turned out the lights. This involved making a blind dash across a room lit only by cracked-door hallway-light leakage and whatever might have been illuminating out in the front yard; a six sided Victorian-style glass lamp perhaps, or cars turning slowly into my neighborhood pushing light-bands of ghosts at odd speeds and angles over my plaid wallpaper and posters of hair bands Poison, Motley Crüe, and Cindy Crawford.
I would leap onto the bed to prevent any monster that may live under it from attacking my ankles. Once in the bed with plaid sheets to match the wallpaper, I would grab my stuffed duck and we would quickly bury ourselves in the cool fabric. As I neared zero in the countdown I would steady my breathing and prepare to be invisible. I would do this by commanding the universe to alter my molecular structure like some kind of X-Man. With two simple words I would say, “Flat. Blend.” And voila I would be reduced to the height of that which I was resting on, in this case, the brown plaid sheets, and like a chameleon my skin and clothing would camouflage itself with the pattern; almost like a color-changing lizard version of Flat Stanley. I would repeat this exercise every night. I had to. Always without missing a beat, as soon as I reached Zero, a crime-boss-man of some kind would enter my room and search the area looking to capture any living organism he found in the space. If I opened my eyes, my 2-dimensional blend-o-being-ness-spell would be broken and I’d be taken away. I couldn’t let that happen. I had a very alive stuffed duck to protect.
Eventually, the hit-man would look the other way and I’d be able to slide out of the sheets to catch some fresh air, with eyes closed of course.
I did this for years and it got me through many a possible long night. It may have also helped me become the vivid dreamer I am being as I would create different scenes and landscapes in which I was hiding out and blending in while hiding from the mob-boss. Strangely enough, I have a weird tic now where I find count whenever I climb stairs, walk down a sidewalk, or paddle out to the line-up on a typical surf session. Every pace or arm stroke is a number. I liken it to some kind of walking meditation where the goal is to be present for each step or stride. Counting may seem redundant but it serves me better than worrying about my egoic life, which at present is testing me like I’m alone in the dark.