I love naps. Always have, always will. That doesn’t necessarily ring true with today’s hyper generation, but it was an iron-clad tradition with the one before mine. My dad wasn’t an everyday practitioner, but on Sunday afternoons the living room couch was his.
Here’s the thing: taking a nap does not imply laziness; indeed, in many cultures it’s understood as a practical must. Those of us who subscribe to the idea in a society that feels otherwise simply call it a means to recharge the old batteries, while being aware that some planning is involved. The best opportunity, I’ve found, is foregoing lunch for a snooze.
Naps run afoul of civilized people’s preference for organization: three meals a day at pretty much the same times; a work day that generally begins at eight and ends at five; five days of work that begin on Monday and conclude on Friday; and a sleep period that commences at 10 or 11 at night and ends at six or seven the next morning. Variations are seen as disruptive and out of synch. The rest of the animal kingdom, of course, eats when food is available and rests when and as needed. Napping has to do with need.
A brief bit of shut-eye of perhaps 30 minutes in the middle of the day will do it for me, and I awake rested, refreshed and ready to go for the remainder of the day. Something of a built-in alarm clock is very helpful; I’ve never dropped off at noon and opened my eyes two hours later in a panic.
Okay. Just woke up from my nap, so I’ll continue…
Years ago, Peter Ustinov and another actor (who I can’t recall) played the parts of two old Russians who were competing to describe the perfect dinner, elaborating on one perfect course after another. Finally, Ustinov’s rival concludes his entries by detailing a sumptuous dessert with great satisfaction, to which Ustinov raises his hand and says, “Ah, but there’s one more item.” There’s a pause, after which Ustinov declares with gusto, “A nyap!!’
Then, too, there’s a German restaurant in the Valley that has a painting on the wall that features a rotund man who has obviously finished a huge dinner — doubtless of rich German food — and has fallen asleep with a small dog lying on his stomach.
It all goes back, of course, to when you were in the second grade and your lunch break — of cheese and bologna sandwiches that were served by obese women with powerful forearms — was immediately followed by a NAP. This was ostensibly enforced so that you could rest and regain your energy for the balance of the school day. Never mind that the true reason was so that your teacher could catch some quiet time, a nap was the last thing you needed, and you constantly peeked at the clock to see when this imposed curtailment of fun would end.
Ah the energy! But you grew up, and more and more, down time became a time of pleasure, the pleasure of doing absolutely nothing and discovering that the world could continue for the moments that you were not at the helm. It still works that way. It’s always worked that way. So my suggestion to you is that you now — even now — slip off your shoes, shut the door to the office and close your eyes for a few delicious moments. Because trust me: life will not have taken a turn for the worse in the time that you were gone.