Ann Keiffer

The Long Nap

In the Buddhist tradition
there is a practice called
Meditation on Death:
If I were to take up this
practice, it would mean
contemplating and
befriending my own death,
rehearsing in my mind
the steps of my dying,
allowing death to teach
me my impermanence,
even more: how I may
live my life to good purpose
and how I might die well.

Fatigue has been an unwelcome
companion much of my life,
and it is fatigue that has become
my Meditation on Death.
So often I feel like I’m dragging
burlap bagsful of wet sod.
And fatigue can overcome
me like a sudden sickness.
I am dropped where I am,
but I do not feel free to rest…
to rest is weak,
to rest is static, lazy,
to rest is not normal,
to rest is a kind of dying.

Still, when it flattens me, my
fatigue is so undeniable I have
crashed into sleep in chairs,
on trains, in cars, in theaters,
on French park benches, on
tray tables, on floors, on
swings with my baby grand-
daughter strapped to my belly.
But by far the worst times
are when I am so sick with
fatigue I cannot sleep at all.

A few years ago, my doctor
told me he wanted me
to take a nap every day.
I laughed at what I thought
was a jest and asked, “Are
you going to write me a
prescription for that?”
Yes, he said. And he did.

Permission to nap. This and
cultivating  a few gray hairs
of wisdom have freed me to
accept the reality of my body.
Most afternoons now I do
curl up on the purple couch
in my bedroom and nap.
When I am tired, how good
it is to lie down,
to let myself drift away
from words and tasks,
from keyboard and book,
from comings and goings,
leaving all behind for
the respite of sleep…
to close my eyes and let go,
to withdraw from the world,
to leave the place where
I am consciousness
and substance,
to become otherness
in other-worldly realms.

A gone-time later, I surface:
exquisite, the feeling of well-being;
quiet, all inner clamor;
sweet, so sweet, the sense of goodwill.

Death, in the guise of my napping,
I think I am coming to know you.
May I rise up to greet you
and embrace you as a friend,
blessing my going,
when in Reality you come.

Ann Keiffer
April, 2011

Original Photo Credit:  Flickr Creative Commons License allaboutgeorge



About Ann

I am interested in the strange beauty of brokenness, in transforming possibility in difficult times, in how we heal even when we can’t get better, in the alchemy of surrender, in the interplay of light and shadow, in the bounty of everyday wonders, in the gift of laughter…and writing about it, all and everything.

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