Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Naptime Manifesto


I don't know about you, but Sunday is one of those days that calls to me to put down my weary head and catch some zzzzzzz's. Forget the "to do" list. Let the clogged drain go another day. Stop frenetically thinking about my work load.

It's especially started to be less of an urge and more of an inescapeable phenomenon since I passed the half century mark. It's finally starting to hit me that all this bruhaha about fifty being the new thirty was made up by someone with a line of vitamins to sell. My body tells me otherwise. No matter how many really, really important things I have to do--like clean the cat's litter box; take my recyclables out to the garbage--my inner clock tells me it's snooze time.

The fact that the older I get, the more I need some mid-day downtime, came home to me after one of the rare Saturdays I had to work. It was an especially long day that started at 8:30 a.m. when I left the house and ended when I crashed on the sofa at around 3:30. I remember my daughter coming home around that time with a Tim Horton's bag, and the next thing I know, the same daughter was asking me what was in the plate in the refrigerator (left over chicken from my work-related function), and if she could eat it. I said, "Didn't you just come home with food?" And she answered me in that "duh, mom" voice that young people have, "Yeah, that was like four hours ago." Apparently it was nearly 7:00, and I had been conked out all that time.

I bring this up because I don't normally come home and crash for four hours at the end of the day, but by the time the weekend rolls around, all systems seem to want to go into a "pause" mode. I don't think that's an accident. Even God, the diligent designer of the universe, rested on the seventh day. I think there's a good reason for it. I believe the Great Allness was simply pooped and needed a guilt-free, unapologetic excuse to give in to physical, emotional, and spiritual fatique. Take a day off. Nap.

I'm coming to realize that we aren't a culture that allows for embracing our natural life rhythms, and that includes the need to curl up and shut down. Instead of appreciating the benefits of decreased capacity and the inevitable slowing of our functions, we chastise ourselves for sitting around on our doopas (a favorite word uttered frequently by my Lithuanian grandmother), and staring off into space. We associate "not doing" with being slackers, and that's a bad thing. Our little Baby Boomer brains are hardwired to our parents' immigrant work ethics. No slacking allowed.

Except our hard-working parents are now into full-fledged seniorhood and have something valuable to teach us about giving in to our body's inner wisdom. My mother, who's in her 70s, is a perfect example. On Christmas Day, I had the family over to my place. After everyone else went home, I popped in the DVD Wall-E. About midway through the movie, I noticed she had nodded off. She missed most of the movie, which, truthfully, I didn't get at all, but sat through, nonetheless; and when she woke up said, "that was pretty good." It made me think, maybe life is just as enjoyable if you snooze through some of it.

Sunday is a good day to reflect on this coming-of-age aspect of life, I think. We all need to make room for silence, for musing, for "not doing," for naps. If I'm snoring away on the couch, just leave me there. If it's that important, it can wait until I'm fully conscious.