American Idle, or: Morpheus Unbound!
Ever since someone first split the atom like a piece of Wonder Bread, we have as a civilization been aware of the possible danger involved in exploring those universes both larger and smaller than our own.
Who knows what doorways will have been opened, what powers unleashed? Whoever endeavors to play hide and seek with the Infinite may find themselves marooned in a world they never made.
Even now, new scientific discoveries are made all the time. The possibility of parallel worlds; supermassive black holes that blast nearby galaxies with radiation; “dark energy” that seems to be causing the universe to expand much faster than it should be.
And yet, we take the risk. Something in our restless nature nags us into discovery, as though our existence will end when our curiosity does.
I had a taste of this the other day at work when I somehow pushed the envelope on my particular area of expertise.
Although I would not lay claim to any sort of real scientific knowledge, I have for some time now performed my own amateur research into the murky and misunderstood subject of spontaneous napping.
It was something that I found I had a very special talent for. My ability to sleep in, hours after the rest of humanity had commenced chasing the gold ring, had established my name as something of a somnolentic prodigy.
Pushed by the fates to seek employment, I immediately set about devising the techniques that would allow me to “hide in plain sight,” as it were, these brief yet necessary excursions into dreamland.
As an employee of Endless Bore and Tedium, I found that I had more than enough time for my experiments. I mastered a light dozing that still allowed me to sense the approach of an authority figure. I pioneered the now popular pastime of hiding in the file room. I invented a way to actually sleep through meetings with my eyes open.
As no one ever asked my opinion at these confabs, I was always perfectly safe.
My latest place of employment has proved to be a real challenge in this regard. Far from having the easygoing attitude I had grown used to, these people seemed to be intent on making the employees occupy themselves with some sort of busy work every hour of the day.
Deprived of any quality naptime, I found myself falling asleep frequently, sometimes in mid-thought or mid-sentence. It was a struggle to keep awake in an atmosphere that required you to be productive.
I would wake up to find my handwriting had trailed off on the paper at the moment of unconsciousness. Faced with thinner and thinner slices of the day in which I could close my eyes, my body coped the best it could.
And so it was the other morning that I found myself both at the threshold of a brave new world, as well as in the shadow of the greatest danger I had ever faced.
I awoke suddenly to find myself unable to breathe. My mouth was filled with sweet, milky tea that my body couldn’t decide to breathe in or swallow down.
I was shocked into awareness and, as soon as I could comprehend what was happening, swallowed the mouthful of English Breakfast. But what on earth had happened?
I realized with a sense of slowly emerging dread that I had somehow managed to fill my mouth with tea and then, before I had the chance to follow through with the traditional swallowing motion, I had quickly fallen asleep with a velocity that the human body had heretofore been thought incapable of.
Imagine it: I had actually somehow managed to find a way to insert a short nap into that moment between sipping tea and swallowing it. Was this not, in its own way, as fantastic a discovery as the worlds within worlds in an atom, this infinitesimal slice of barely perceptible laziness? Was it not a watershed in the development of Mankind’s eternal quest to goof off, even in those moments of time that are so tiny as to be non-existent?
Could this be the beginning of a new quantum physics of idleness, a confirmation at last of our endless longing to do nothing? If I could fit a quick snooze into such a subatomic space, weren’t even smaller spaces begging to be found in which I could briefly find some much needed respite?
I don’t expect to see it all come true in my lifetime, mind you. But it will be enough to be remembered after I begin that endless, infinite nap we all aspire to, the one whose pillow is Eternity and whose coverlets are the blue blankie of the stars.
I will see you there in the bedroom of Creation, as the alarm clocks, large and small, are unceremoniously banished to Hell.