Saturday, May 06, 2006


THE PROFESSIONAL LEVEL


In my younger days I often had the feeling that, despite the relentless excess of vigor and flex, there was some unfulfillment lingering nameless-- something other than the lack of wisdom that so patently earmarks the premature years.

It wasn't until I reached my late fifties that what had been missing all those flashy decades at last came to me like a dream-filled pillow: I had finally developed the necessary skills to take the professional-level nap.

And what a pleasure it is, to find something new that equals the youthful thrill of a home run, even surpassing the derivative endorphins of the near four-minute mile (neither of which, I might point out, is repeatable at will, the way a professional nap is). As a youngster of course I used to feel derivatively drowsy now and then - mainly during history, math, language, biology, economics, anthropology, philosophy and the other classes I don't recall - or after staying up till dawn wasting my life in one inventive way or another; but then, if by any chance I perversely laid down in the afternoon, I just stared at the ceiling with all that unused vigor streaming through me, the sheer energy of the whitewater years making it impossible to sleep. But not any more; nothing is wasted now.

Decades of sheer effort have at last imparted to me another precious secret of age. One uncovers these secrets, as I say, develops these skills, only after many years, years of survival and of perceiving from experience that if you do stop and take a nap, you won't miss much at all, because nothing much happens on sleepy afternoons when you're in your fifties and beyond that couldn't just as well happen later. After a nap.

Besides, there is something sacramental about hearing the call and at last, after all these dramatic life stages, being able to answer it, like a seed in spring: one simply must lie down and germinate. Not only physically, but ethically as well. Summoned thus from on high to stretch out in this agreeably supine way of things, for just a little while, to fulfill this sacred duty known only to god and the successfully aged survivor: now this, this is purpose.

And believe me, I give it everything I've got.

8 comments:

Chancy said...

Robert,

Like the fog that comes on little cat feet, a good nap has to quietly sneak in and catch you unaware.

Joy Des Jardins said...

It's amazing what one comes to appreciate. It seems you have honed the fine art of "nap" into a beautiful thing. Somehow I never can just lie down and take a nap, but maybe I haven't looked at it in YOUR light. Thanks Robert.

Robert Brady said...

Chancy, it requires insistently closing eyes to see that cat.

Joy, sounds like you're still too young; live on in patience, the secret will arrive.

Tabor said...

I still have that Puritanical guilt thing going if I nap in the afternoon.

Mary Lou said...

It took about a month after I retired to allow myself the pleasure of an afternoon nap. Now i savor them. SOmetimes they are in the chair, sometimes in bed, sometimes long and sometimes only 20 minutes. and just last tuesday almost on the highway....OOPS! ;)

Gordon Coale said...

Nap good!

stu said...

another beautiful post robert.
as you know, the japanese are masters of this art - a train carriage at any time of the day often being two thirds unconcious.
with the hot and humid summer coming I think we should lobby koizumi to at least consider introducing the siesta.
you think?

Robert Brady said...

I myself have been publicly embodying the siesta for some years now... Parks are great for that... sunny, with nice lawns under a shady tree...