Charlie's Blog: Sleeping With One Eye Open


Sleeping With One Eye Open

Better is the poor man walking in his simplicity, than the rich in crooked ways.

In The Professional, the main character has an unusual habit of sleeping. He puts on his sunglasses, sits straight in a chair, and turns out the light with a weapon at hand. The reason for this unusual way of sleeping comes from the fact that the character is a hit man, and he never knows when the hit may be on him. Consequently, he attempts to sleep with one eye open. That seems like a steep price for such a violent career.

A similar thing can be found in American Gangster where Denzel Washington learns the ropes from an older but wiser gangster to live a modest and unassuming lifestyle. This meant not going out to clubs, driving fancy cars, and wearing gaudy fashions. Basically, to get away with being the head of a gangster outfit over the long haul, you have to live the simple life of a private old man much like many retirees live today. Why bother being a gangster if you can never enjoy the perks of such a lifestyle? Washington's character gives in to the temptation by wearing a chinchilla coat to a boxing match which attracts attention and becomes his undoing.

The lesson in both these movies is that a life of crime and violence is not a good life. It is a life of a few pleasures and unending paranoia. I cannot fathom why anyone would ever want such a life. To a lesser degree, there are all sorts of powerful and rich people in various fields that play Machiavellian games. They probably don't sweat being murdered or arrested, but they can't look at themselves in the mirror for too long. They know what they are, and it isn't pretty.

The problem is that people want things. They want money. They want to be rich. Somehow, being rich takes care of problems. It creates "security." Yet, this security seems like one gigantic illusion. This is why I learned a long time ago to prefer simplicity in matters of lifestyle and profession. I like sleeping with both eyes closed. I like being able to live with myself.

I understand that some people can't accept the simple path. Their values are misaligned. Maybe they wanted nice things. Maybe they wanted to be somebody. These things are vanities. These people would rather die than be simple. And, then, they die. Their lives end up being not much different than the life of a simpler and humbler sort of person. If poverty has any real blessing, it lets you sleep. As for the paranoid, they will see sleep when they are dead.