A Summer Challenge: Learning To Nap

Commentator Andrei Codrescu has been a vigilant observer of the world for years. He's tried to reshape revolutions, parsed the media landscape, wrestled with scandals and triumphs. Now, he is taking on a new challenge: learning to nap.

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Commentator Andrei Codrescu has been our vigilant observer of the world for more than 25 years. He's tried to reshape revolutions, parsed the media landscape, wrestled with scandals and triumphs. Now he's taking on a new challenge.

ANDREI CODRESCU: This summer I'm going to learn how to nap. Some people have no problem napping - they have the gift. They can nap standing, sitting or lying down. They can catnap anywhere. If they have a desk job, they can nap at work. Students sleep through years of lectures and labs. The gifted have no problem, but I need to learn.

I don't have the gift because I'm from Europe. We were too nervous over there to nap. Every time you dozed off, a war started, or they came for you. Americans are better nappers than Europeans because they feel safer, and that's despite the color-coded threats they intone at airports or the cable news that howl like coyotes.

Young people are practically immune to warnings because they live encased in music. Nothing short of evacuation by force will penetrate their sleepy sound bubble. Older people sometimes are equipped by nature with the one guaranteed defense from the constant state of emergency induced by merchandizing -deafness.

That leaves those of us who aren't deaf and have no gift of the nap to somehow navigate the world horribly awake. One inferior remedy is a sense of perspective. Worse things happened in the past. That's true, but they weren't so loud. In the past you could sleep through any disaster, as long as it wasn't happening under your feet or overhead. Other people's disasters were muted.

You might argue that knowing about more horrors makes us more sympathetic, but hearing about it at cable news decibels has the opposite effect: It makes us less sympathetic to any disasters. They make you want to take a nap.

Another substitute for napping is going into a retreat with silent monks. That's kind of like napping for a whole week or months. Short of that, nitrous oxide is pretty good for having a good nap-long giggle that shuts the world out. None of the substitutes qualify.

I hear that the CIA can teach how to take a deep, short nap and wake up fresh enough to kill. I would like to take that course minus the kill part. I have faith. The wind will teach me.

BLOCK: Poet, novelist and would-be napper Andrei Codrescu is the editor of Exquisite Corpse.

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