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The art of the nap

Eric Retter | Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Everyone has a hobby.

Some people love exercise, running mile after mile every time the sun shines.

Other people collect things, searching around town for the next big purchase, putting their trophies in the hallowed spaces over their mantles.

These activities, like most hobbies, involve one of two things: energy and money, neither of which I have much of at this point.

That being said, I too have a hobby, a new love that fills the empty hours of my afternoons: napping.

Unlike most hobbies, where one must start from basically nothing and chase their passion with their money or efforts, napping requires no introduction, no training, nothing but a love of quality rest.

In preschool, napping was encouraged as part of the curriculum – and I feel that it is high time to return to the mindset of our past.

With time and dedication, anyone can become a good napper. Also, the nap is timeless. At any hour of the day, at any time of the year, the napper can pursue his/her passion. Night or day, winter or summer, the nap is always available as the perfect leisure pursuit.

Napping, however, is not merely the pursuit of sleep and an absence of activity. Napping is a skill honed by years of practice. While anyone can take a great nap when exhaused, these fluke performances are not signs of napping prominence.

The true napper must learn to adapt to his surroundings, to push him/herself into the optimal mindset no matter what the conditions may be. With two hours of free time, the committed napper finds a way to get it done. A great napper can sleep through the roommate’s telephone conversation while the TV blares, and the best in the business could probably sleep through a rock concert in the rain.

While sleep is an integral part of the nap, a good nap is much more than sleep. Napping is about clearing your mind, finding relaxation amidst the strains of daily life. The best naps come while the sun is out, after one has found the momentary peace that contrasts with the bustle of the outside world. While I must admit that I am not the best napper, I feel that I am making progress with my abilities, with a little more work, I soon could be one of the best.

In those preschool days, my teachers gave out the daily “Best-Rester Award” to the best napper of the day. In my four years under their care, I won the award only one time, ranking me last in my graduating kindergarten class of 1991.

If they could see me now, could see how far I’ve come, I know my teachers would be pleased.