This I Believe
I believe in naps. For young and old, there’s nothing like a nap to restore good humor, mind and body. Babies come to earth knowing this. Just look at the blissful face of a sleeping infant and you know they’re talking to the angels while revitalizing cells to grow at breakneck speed. But all too soon, children start to resist the nap. Their appreciation for these blessed snatches of slumber doesn’t usually return until they become overworked, exhausted adults.
That time for me was when I was the parent of a toddler. The best way to settle my highly kinesthetic son was to lie in bed and read with him before his nap. As I read each story, not only he, but I, too, would become increasingly heavy-lidded, until we were both zonked. After fifteen or so minutes, I would wake, gaze upon his precious sleeping face, then slip out of bed and into a flurry of activity, re-energized. This ritual was so mutually rewarding that I repeated the practice with my second and third children.
Alas, the children grew up, went to school, and I, to work. Now, I cherish the occasional nap even more. What other self-indulgence is there that is absolutely free in this world? Cost-free, calorie-free, sin-free, effortless, the nap is the most decadent, yet purely innocent luxury there is. What is more delicious than giving in to a week’s worth of mental and physical fatigue on a chilly, rainy Sunday afternoon in March? What is lovelier than laying your book on your chest and succumbing to drowsiness? How much kinder can you be to your ornery self than to kiss the children, tell them not to disturb you unless in immediate physical danger, and close the bedroom door?
Many cultures have incorporated the nap, or “Siesta,” into their day. Not us Americans. We drive ourselves from before dawn until past dusk, busy as it is humanly possible to be. There is no quiet time for us. Television, cell phones, laptops, pagers and I-pods have us plugged in every waking moment. I sometimes wonder; would there be less violence in our lives, better health and more kindness if everyone could just have a little nap?
My grandmother and grandfather, both of whom lived well into their nineties, ate bacon or sausage and eggs every morning, then fried the rest of their meals in the bacon or sausage fat from breakfast. They napped every afternoon. You tell me the reason for their longevity. I’m betting on the nap.
The next time the world is too much with you, turn off your phone, close your office or bedroom door, or recline the seat in your car and take a nap. Afterwards, you’ll feel better and so will everyone around you. And don’t feel guilty. Just know you are doing your part to bring a little more tenderness into the world. The only price to pay is a little drool on your face when you wake up.
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