We are not machines, we are animals.
Intelligent, tool using animals, I will give you that, but animals, nonetheless. This means we have needs: food, water, shelter, and rest. Modern life has refined, or you might even say distorted most of them. We do no longer eat just to feed us, but we have created the arts of patisserie and Haut cuisine. We no longer drink clear water and nothing else, we have soft drinks, nut milks, champagne, and wine cellars to choose from. Our shelters scrape the sky or dive deep into the earth, they are tiny cabins in the woods or giant blocks of concrete -like beehives only ugly and much less sophisticated. We do no longer take a nap like our cat does.
rest? We do not like to rest.
There is so much to do, so much information to gather, we do not want to waste a single minute. So instead of taking a nap we drink caffeine loaded drinks to keep up and take sleeping pills at night to fall into short and dreamless pits of darkness from which we do not come back rested. Who gets up when they awake by themselves? Who goes to sleep when they are tired? There is always an alarm clock involved, some important thing to be read or watched before we can relax. And then? Then we lie in the dark. Awake. Wondering. Thinking. Trying to digest all the weird and wonderful that happened in the day. And we cannot find peace.
I can sleep when I am dead, says the fool.
Without sleep his life will be quite short because we need sleep. Young parents can tell you some things about sleep deprivation if you do not believe me. Things get strange when you do not sleep enough. And not the good kind of strange. (Having a baby is one of the best ways to develop a deep appreciation for the nap. Either your nap or the baby’s nap will be welcomed and cherished.) It’s not just about the body alone, the brain and soul need rest too.
Especially if you are a creative and rely on the strange things and weird wonders your imagination can produce, you need rest.
Let’s be clear: your brain has work to do when you sleep.
All those loads of information must get processed and selected and categorised in the right way, in your way in your brain. You can do some things to help your brain processing information. There is going for a walk, making notes or lists, doodling, drawing, painting. Then there are seemingly mindless activities like washing up, folding the laundry, knitting, gardening, cleaning and so on. They give your mind a break and thus let your brain do its work on the gathered information.
One of the most efficient ways of giving your brain the room and the time it needs to process things, is napping.
I used to encourage my children to take a nap occasionally when they were preparing for exams. Putting your books under your pillow will help you only if you look into them before you turn out the light and sleep. But then it will.
Wrestling a particular creative endeavour that is challenging you might improve if every once in a while, you step back from the canvas, back from the marble, back from the computer, back from the thing you are wrestling… And take a nap.
Put a daybed in your studio, your office, your workplace.
Start hoarding voluptuous pillows and glorious blankets and cuddly toys that make you smile for you special naps. Do not be surprised if your creativity starts to expand. Just relish the eagerness that wakes you up and pushes you back to the canvas. Delight in the weight of your body as you lie there, slipping away, and in the quirkiness and inspiration you may bring back from the depths.
Enjoy your nap!
Heartfelt, wherever you are,
P.S. What is your preferred time and place for a nap?