Monthly Archives: August 2013

Away, Away

“…. And as a nap slowly steals her away, she feels herself engulfed in a wave of absolute calm. She shuts her eyes. Drifts off, untroubled, everything clear, and radiant, and all at once.” Khaled Hoseini, And the Mountains Echoed

I am on my back on the deck and my eyes are closed. The boat is Desolation Sound bound, inching through the Puget Sound, Gulf Islands, and up the Straight of Georgia. I feel like I’m living in an Annie Dillard novel, illustrated every few miles on shore by Edward Hopper lighthouses, the only structures around. My husband tells me dolphin are leaping in our wake when I nap. That, he thinks, will keep me from sleeping. What he doesn’t know is I may be dreaming of whales. 

As we make our way a sailboat motors by named “Breeze.” Moon jellyfish are pulsing beneath us, mountain peaks rise rounded, pointed, and tilting like witches’ hats, and Crayola white clouds as drawn by children. Otherwise it’s trees, trees, trees forevermore—a landscape that’s all-preserved, all-good, except when you think about bears. Whenever I step ashore, I think about bears a lot.

When I was young and growing up Catholic, I thought the ideal way to die would be in my sleep, in church. This required some practice in falling asleep during sermons. Remember when nearly every elderly person used to “pass away,” as they said, “in their sleep”? Lately everyone seems to die of specific causes, and so I was almost pleased to hear of someone dying in her sleep. Since that strikes me as a simple, peaceful and painless way to go, it’s good to know it can still happen.

I don’t need the church now, but I do need my sleep, day and night, more than ever. I am a napper. There, I’ve admitted it.

I had to help persuade my dad at eighty-something, still steeped in Protestant Work Ethic, into napping. “It’s alright, dad. Think of naps as prayers.” Does he know what a running start I had on him?

Napping and life go hand in hand for me. Just as in boating when we shove away from the shore–and leave it all behind, I love flying above the cloud cover, when it’s hard to imagine a country down there with all it’s configurations of land and water, all its human strives and heartbreaks. Away, away–apparently I am drawn to that.

Stretched out on my back on the deck, I could be anyone, anywhere, any age.

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