Go" seems to be the word that describes our philosophy of progress. You've seen the Advair commercial: it's exhausting. Keep moving is our mantra for reaching our highest potential, meeting deadlines, getting it all done. Stockbrokers on Wall Street leave suit coats hanging on their chairs to fool co-workers into thinking they are still there. Though it may not be as bad in your world, you'll still find any way to add more in. Why rest during your lunchtime when you can work out? Why sleep when there are dishes in the sink? Why take a siesta when the sun is burning, the games are on and it seems the rest of the world will leave you behind?
La siesta, the daytime slumber that so much of the world covets, is something we shrug off. American tourists are surprised when banks and businesses close for two hours every day all over Europe. And what's with that guilty feeling you get when you find yourself using your child's naptime to catch up on much-needed sleep?
Naps are utterly un-American. And un-adult. And therefore, we often feel guilty for taking them. But the best naps -- the nap we deny being in the middle of when someone calls on Saturday afternoon -- are the most pleasurable. This is no catnap at your cubicle; it's not a quick reprieve off your feet before kids barge in or the phone rings. It's the mid-day slumber taken not after the to-do list is completed, but despite its very existence. It means the shoes are off, the shades are drawn, and the only noise is that soft, rhythmic swooshing of traffic out your window.
A guilty pleasure nap is taken despite mail to open, chapters to finish, meals to be cleaned up. To look at the long list of obligations, to note the day that is still bright, to acknowledge the busy world going on around us, and to choose sleep amidst it all.
Publication date: 02/20/03