Growing up I was one of those kids that kept their mothers up at all hours of the night. It wasn’t because I was crying, it was just that I was awake, and wanted attention.
It wasn’t until I was 5 that my parents realized I had insomnia. I’d compare insomnia to something like being a werewolf minus all the cool perks. Unless you loved late night reruns like I did. I used to be able to recite terrible local commercials and knew all of the off beat shows. This instantly made me the “weirdo” in school. Which, let’s be honest was inevitable anyways.
One night there was a Japanese movie on at 3am. It was old and terribly translated samurai movie. It was amazing, inspiring, epic, romantic, and adventurous. It literally had everything you could want in a film. At the time I only caught the first part of the movie. This movie was so long they had to have an intermission in the middle. For some reason they only played the first part so I had no idea how it ended or the title of the movie. I remember checking the paper for the TVGuide and it was a blank slot. For a second I thought “was I dreaming”? I spent the next several weeks trying to find this movie. I went to flea markets, china town, and foreign cinema stores trying to find it. I didn’t have much luck off the bat. Keep in mind this was a time before the internet, so it was really hard finding stuff like this. Eventually, I found it “Seven Samurai” on VHS in video rental store on the used for sale shelf. I must’ve watched that movie a hundred or so times. I remember ruining the tape from watching it so much.
On my twelfth birthday I joined a karate dojo because of that movie. I wanted to learn to defend myself and learn more about Japanese culture. Gary, an older Japanese guy with an extremely loud voice was our sensei (instructor). Gary had the voice of a lion, and for the first 3 weeks of class I was scared of him. Gary drove an old muscle car and had slicked back hair, almost like like he was living in a different time. He was a good guy and sort of a father figure when my old man wasn’t. He used to pick me up and drop me off from lessons. I admired him so much as a kid.
In addition to learning to defend ourselves, Gary taught us the practice of deep meditative breathing. Meditating taught me how to calm my mind and eventually how to fall asleep before midnight. Keep in mind, it wasn’t something that happened right away. It took about six months for the change in sleep habits to occur. By the time I was 18, I was sleeping like a log, up to a solid 7-9 hours of sleep versus 4-6 hours when I was younger. I still liked staying up late though.
In retrospect, it’s really funny how much one movie influenced my life.