BY: JAMES F. O’NEIL
“I HAD A NAP BUT NOW I DON’T KNOW WHO I AM OR WHAT YEAR IT IS.”——qtd. from tumblr
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I have noticed lately, especially now that I have walked slowly and arthritically past the 80-year milestone, that I am craving a nap more than I was ever aware of before. In fact, I hear myself talking to myself, “I need a nap.”
Around 11 a.m., I hear myself repeating that “Need-a-Nap” mantra.
“At the end of the day, the mantra is meant to bring you back to simplicity. We live in such a complex world that it’s easy to get lost in all the details. Mantras can help you circle back to the simplistic approach to life and focus on those things that inspire you and truly make you happy.” —Chopra 2021.
Now talking aloud to oneself at 11 a.m. is usually all right, but pre- or post-Covid-19 it is not such a good idea. It draws a lot of attention, and stares, from those not in need of a nap, mostly the young. I find my wife, however, is my best audience, agreeing, as she holds her second or third cup of coffee of the day.
The day: When does it all begin that I require a nap?
A day, as we know it, begins at midnight or 12 a.m. We sleep away already part of the day at night. My “day” can begin when my ROKU is turned off, ending my viewing pleasure of some Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Disney+, or Apple TV+ program, usually about 1 a.m. So, I am tired, and I go to bed, to sleep. My dear wife is already fast asleep. At her feet, the cat.
Our cat is a good sleeper. Mostly.
Now our days begin when he wants them to: play time or hair-ball, or walking and purring on my wife, whom he adores; our days begin when we have medical appointments, when the garbage pickup days occur (soon after 8 a.m. on Tuesday and Friday. “Don’t put out the garbage the night before.” Rats, racoons, coyotes, possums…) Most days begin at 0700 or even 7:30 a.m.
This may come as a shock to those who think that retirement or growing old means sleeping in until nine or ten every day, as portrayed in some fantasy movie. Not so!
“I Need a Nap!” Even AARP and major health establishments shout out “Take naps!”
When I was growing up in Chicago, I had to take a bus and an L to my high school.
I don’t recall often sleeping on the trip to school. I was mostly studying. But in the afternoon (or evening after an after-school event), I would definitely “nap.” But that was not a nap (even though occasionally I would sleep past my stop). No,
“A nap is a short period of sleep, typically taken during daytime hours as an adjunct to the usual nocturnal sleep period. Naps are most often taken as a response to drowsiness during waking hours. A nap is a form of biphasic or polyphasic sleep, where the latter terms also include longer periods of sleep, in addition to one single period.”
I never attended kindergarten, never had a special time-out when I and my classmates lay down on soft cushioned material, covered myself with some kind of blanket or “woobie” and took a siesta-nap. My two boys-to-men had the napping experience in pre-school and in kindergarten. Those experiences prepared them for family camping outings or for other napping occasions “nestled in mosquito nets, nothing above but dark night sky and stars ever so clear. No soft meditation music to help fall asleep, only the howling sounds of wild coyotes out in the desert, and the muffled thundering sounds of big-gun field artillery conducting their fire missions off in the distance.” —US Army Veteran
Except for my own naps, those of the children I taught in the Head Start Program in Minnesota summers, in a time long ago, were most pleasant. Sixteen little bumps resting after morning activities, playground, lunch, finger painting, and then the need for rest and time out before snack, before departure. Quiet time for me and my aide to gather our breaths. Ah, nap time.
In time, I dozed off–certainly during faculty meetings or at boring convention presentations (perhaps some conferences even required a return to my room for a “nap” after lunch. . .). I might have “napped” before teaching some night class, or “napped” before attending an evening faculty function. These and other like examples become noteworthy as respite, relief, or calm.
Now my nap, our naps–“Wanna take a nap?” –can occur soon after the morning weather with Julie Marquez, two pieces of Martin’s raisin bread toast, a Halo mandarin orange, one to three cups or coffee, one apple fritter or Boston cream donut, or any combination of these. Perhaps Frosted Mini-wheats or Honey-Nut Cheerios? And then the local and world news events.
Garbage Picked Up (Tuesday and Friday)
11:00 a.m. Nap Time
(Too hot and muggy to take the cat for a walk. Maybe tonight when it’s cooler?)
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“Are you tired? “I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a nap,” she said.
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“I’m worn out watching all those National Geographic films. I’ve emptied the oceans; I’ve dug around Egypt; I’ve climbed the Andes Mountains. I need a nap.”
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A nap. A blessed and sacred event. Well, not really, but something we do look forward to, do need, do miss if we don’t get one. A special time.
The special time is any time, between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.! That’s right: 7 p.m. Sometimes a long doctors’ clinic afternoon requires a late nap, before supper and evening news. Sometimes a condo board meeting that began at 10 a.m. and adjourned at noon: a cold refreshing McDonald’s shake before a nap is the perfect remedy to heal the stresses of board budgets and owners’ complaints. Ah, an afternoon nap.
As you can see, there is no set Head Start Nap Time, like 1:30 p.m. We are flexible nappers. We can nap anytime–and anywhere. The best place, though care must be taken lest the body think it’s bedtime, is on the bed, with quilt covering feet, temperature set at 74-76°. Next is the living room, sure to have cat-company. The TV room has a couch for reclining, with accompanying cedar chest for feet and sit-up short nap, or doze-y nap, with one eye on the TV.
But I have the most Special Place, the two-position recliner.
I kick back, settle, relax, and doze. And if I am lucky, I’ll have a purring feline with me for an hour or so, curled in comfort on my lap. I cannot, however, nap too long in the chair. My back tells me when it is time to get up and move around, so a two-hour nap is more than enough. A good nap, with dreams (!); and with air conditioning, an excellent nap.
And so it goes. Each day beginning so differently, with catwalk, breakfast, doctors’ appointments, humidity, garbage trucks, coffee stimulation (or not), or a variety of other obligations or choices for the day (early morning blood tests? Did I mention those?). And we think about where we might be able to have nap time set aside. Yes, that is true. It’s like family planning, dinner planning, or planning for the rest of the day.
Or, often, the day will simply proceed, and we will say aloud,
“I NEED A NAP!”
© James F. O’Neil 2021