I was reading a piece over at the BBC News site and in its text there was an old English word that grabbed my attention: uhtceare.
Uhtceare (pronounced oot-key-are-a) describes the act of lying awake in the wee hours, overcome with worry. I find it very interesting that this word, from ages and ages ago, so aptly describes what many of us experience today, and – apparently – always have. I mean – I’ve succumbed to night after night of worry. I can’t stand it, but it’s true. I’ve lost sleep to worries over money, health, paint colors, whether or not I said something I shouldn’t have, wondering what I’ll wear to something or other, world peace, war, lack of confidence, professional crises and just about anything else you can come up with. Each time I’ve gone through this exhausting routine, it has run its course and then ended. Thank the lord. Still, I can’t claim I’m a stranger to the word’s meaning. Can you?
But here’s the thing. When I’m suffering through those long, hard nights (or early mornings), I am not alone. Nor am I the first. Uhtceare has been tiring out good souls for eons, and will no doubt continue long after I embrace the final Big Sleep.
Having a word to describe the energy-zapping, sleepless nights won’t do anything to revitalize my body or soul. But I do like knowing the word, just the same. And I hope against hope that I sleep so well I can forget having ever learned it.