Monday, January 24, 2011

Give It A Rest

Once again, January has locked the Northland in a deep freeze.

With the cold temperatures, little moves. The creek has numerous ice bridges over it and the little bit of running water moves toward the river like liquid gelatin. In an otherwise silent world, the river itself is full of ice flows, creating an unearthly groaning sound as they bounce off the frozen bank. The chickadees, jays and nuthatches stay busy at my bird feeder, a little more frantic for the food that will sustain them in these cold temperatures. They have become friendlier, grateful I imagine for the unending source of seed I am able to provide. They speak little, too busy eating for warmth than having conversation over a meal. The deer move in each evening for a snack on what’s left of the corn I’ve thrown down for the jays. The squirrels have moved inside their tree-top nests, the partridge and rabbits are buried deep in their snow caves. There is little evidence of night activity beyond a few mice prints on each night’s new snowfall. Life moves minimally. Everything has fallen silent.

And even though we have so little light during these days of January, I too feel the urge to close my eyes and enjoy the peaceful darkness of a nap. While I excel at napping any time of the year, my body seems to be designed for this midwinter type of siesta. In January I take napping to new levels, finding accessories like a down duvet, body pillows, hot baths and intoxicating scents sprayed on these adornments. I am a pro. What Mother Nature doles out at other times of the year, warm sunlight, breezes carrying heady smells, a hot sandy beach or the lapping of waves on the shoreline, I have learned to manufacture in my frozen north.

I’ve been good at napping all my life. Falling asleep during required nap time was embarrassing when I was in kindergarten and Brownies. I had no problem closing my eyes and drifting off. But I’d wake with all my mates staring and giggling at the spittle running down my chin, my damp mat-crushed hair, and one wrinkled and red cheek that had previously been plastered to my sleeping surface, usually a rug. They, of course, had not slept at all and had entertained themselves by watching me. I probably got unmentionable and gross things stuck in my nose, ears and mouth as I blissfully slept on. I’m thankful I’ll never know.

However lately, napping has new respect. Maybe I’m noticing more nap appreciation in others because I’m hanging out with an older, nap-loving crowd. Or perhaps folks of all ages are turning on to the power of a nap. Either way, I no longer get laughed at. I get envied. Those who do not have the time or a place in their day to nap, marvel at my ability to sack out for an hour or so each day. So, with new level of approval, I’ve improved my napping proficiency.

For those of you who want to learn napping, the single most important thing to understand is that napping embraces the often-forgotten talent of doing only one thing at a time and doing that one thing well. When you turn the prestige of being able to multitask on its head and elevate the old way of doing things, single-tasking, the lowly nap not only seems more respectable and even doable, it becomes art. Oh, granted, there are multiple benefits from napping; a sharper mind, better motor coordination, happiness, lower blood pressure, to name a few. But you are not the “doer” of these. You are, by simply taking a break and becoming a master of The Nap, “being,” the recipient of these, nothing more.

And as a reminder, all good things arrive when you’re sleeping; Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and even Spring. Try it.

"Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap." ~Barbara Jordan