A friend of mine makes the kind of confession to me that one can only make while downing a pint in low barroom light.
She leans forward and says, "Today I spent the entire day in bed. I didn't do anything."
In this age of constant media stimulation and societal pressure to always be doing something, this type of confession is rare. Yet, I did the same thing recently.
I have entered hibernation mode. My entire body is now in its winter setting. It takes a long time to activate in the morning and it never quite warms up during the day. Shutdown is a lot earlier than it used to be; so early in fact, that I don't even want to admit in print how early I feel like going to bed. My pillow calls me shortly after I walk in the door each black-as-midnight evening and it's a real struggle to tune it out. I try to squeeze in some bill paying, some minimal exercise, and a meal before I give into the down-filled siren song. I don't always succeed.
After my friend says she spent a day doing nothing she continues, "I felt guilty about it for a bit. But now I don't. I think it's okay this time of year to do nothing if your body is telling you to do nothing."
I couldn't agree more.
Cold is here. Dark is here. In our area of the shoreline, of Connecticut, of the East Coast, day turns to night in the middle of the afternoon. What is your mind and body supposed to do with that? I say it's supposed to take hibernation and transform it into a form of art.
How is this done? Let's start with visualization. Your inspiration: the three-toed sloth, an animal so lethargic it sleeps 15 to 20 hours a day. Remember, it's not what you don't do, but how you don't do it. Channel the sloth and sleep as much as you want.
If you must do something, do it at a sluggish pace. When possible, follow this pattern: Sleep, eat, repeat.
Weekdays are for working and for moving at a normal pace, but on your days off it's fine to be a sloth. Your day should start with a long, hot shower. Coffee (decaf) is optional; naps are required.
Meals should be assembled and placed in a crock pot to simmer all day. Yes, even cooking should be slow. Food should be as heavy as your eyelids after 8 p.m. It should be comfort food, as warm and cozy as fleece. Don't forget the starch. I'm talking dumplings in beef stew, cornbread with chili, and potatoes. Lots of potatoes.
Now is the time to catch up on all those million-hour Ken Burns documentaries you've been meaning to watch. Stay away from action flicks and horror shows that will get your pulse racing. James Bond movies and American Horror Story are off-limits. PBS is your best TV friend. Cue up a nature show with David Attenborough narrating in his languid, British voice and let him lull you into dreamland. It should only take a few minutes.
Ever read War and Peace? Moby Dick? Atlas Shrugged? No? Well, you've got a long season of letting moss grow under your feet to do so. Get a cup of hot chocolate (with marshmallows), slide under a down comforter, and prop yourself in a comfy position with 10,000 pillows. See if you get beyond one page before slipping off to sleep.
If you must be social, go to your local pub where everyone is slumped over drinks and speaking in low tones. Your pub of choice should be informal with a pace as unhurried as mud flowing uphill. Order a Guinness and watch it settle in the glass like ash in a warm fire. Sip it slowly.
In your half-sleep haze time will travel quickly. Before you know it days will be longer than nights, the chill will leave the air, and you'll be climbing the walls with energy. Until then, happy hibernating.
Juliana Gribbins is a writer who believes that absurdity is the spice of life. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.