Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Reviving Siesta


A beautiful Sunday spent exploring the countryside near Carlos Paz, Argentina with Fer and her husband, Franco, in January 2007.

I love taking naps. Rather, I should say I love the IDEA of taking naps. Although many of the places I've lived still uphold siesta as a sacred and practiced tradition, I rarely allow myself the luxury of crawling into bed mid-day. In part, I don't often nap because every time I wake up from one, I'm ready and willing to devour an entire sheet cake--even when my nap directly follows lunch and lasts only 20 minutes. More importantly, however, I don't take naps because I think I don't have time for a nap. A common symptom of the American lifestyle model.

Yesterday I got out of bed far earlier than desired in order to get in the car and drive to Washington-Dulles airport in rush hour traffic. The coffee machine at my host's house is currently broken, which meant driving sans my morning caffeine injection. Not something I wish to repeat, nor should I.

The trip to Dulles was an attempt to see Fer, the woman who ten years ago became my older sister and dearest of friends- the person who readily shares love and advice and isn't afraid to tell me when I'm acting like an ass. It's been nearly three years since I was last with her in Córdoba, so when we discovered that she had a four-hour layover in DC on her trip from Argentina to Beijing, we were thrilled. Unfortunately, she got trapped in the insanity that immigration and security have become in US airports and didn't have time to leave the transit area. I was disappointed, of course, but felt somehow glad to have briefly shared a common space. I got back in my car and fought my fatigue-induced blurred vision back to Washington.

It was only during the precious summers I spent at Fer's house in Carlos Paz that I actually took to napping. I had nothing better to do; the entire town was asleep between 2 and 5 PM. In fact, there I learned to appreciate a whole myriad of activities that force one to stop, enjoy the moment and recharge. In the US, we claim that we don't have time for such things. "I'm too busy" is a phrase we use almost automatically, a conditioned response to any threat of deviation from the 9 to 5 work routine. In truth, we don't MAKE time for these activities. Instead of organic, impromptu gatherings, friendships here are manifested as events that we program into our electronic agendas weeks in advance, and when we do meet a friend for coffee, more often than not we spend our time talking about what we have to do next and why we have to rush off. Anything "self-indulgent" like taking a siesta is considered a waste of time rather than an opportunity to pause and regroup in order to resume work more productively afterward. There are clear benefits--health and otherwise-- to the "work to live" mentality upheld in many places across the globe as compared to the American "live to work" model. Most of us, however, are too busy to realize this.

In a recent post, Jen Lee reminds us that "It's okay not to know what to do next. Laying down is always good for the not-knowing moments." I found this all too fitting, given my current state of uncertainty about the future. Jen reminded me that I DO have time to slow down and breathe-- I just usually fill that time seeking answers rather than staying with the questions. I decided then that I would make a point of incorporating a mini-siesta into my day, and when I returned home from the airport, I saw my first opportunity to do so. I closed the shades, climbed into bed, and just as I was drifting off, the landscapers arrived and began their work just below my window. Next time I'll nap with earplugs.

1 comment:

  1. Of course, earplugs and eye covers always!!!! Napping is like recharging batteries....... So good!!! I'm good at it.

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