Friday, April 21, 2017

Boyden's Naps

Venerable Deerfield Headmaster Frank Boyden, Shown Here in Yankee Magazine Profile from 1968
It is almost noon. [Frank Boyden] goes over to his house for a short nap. He is not taking the nap because he is eighty-six and needs it in order to keep going. He has been doing this all his life. Even more than fireplace fires, his naps are the essence of his mechanism, for he can go to sleep absolutely anywhere, at any time, and he can sleep soundly, if he chooses, for less than three minutes. Sometimes, while he is interviewing parents, he will press a button and his secretary will appear and say that he has a phone call. Excusing himself, he goes out, holding up five fingers to indicate the number of minutes he wants to sleep. He pulls a shawl over himself. It takes him thirty seconds to fade out. After five minutes, he is awakened. Up goes the hand again, this time with three fingers extended. Three minutes later, the secretary awakens him again. He gets up—as fresh as if he had slept through a night—and goes back to the interview. The first component of this art is that he can wash his mind free of anything at any time. Then he starts at the north end of the village and tries to remember who lives in the first house. George Lunt. Then he moves to the next house. He has never got beyond the third house. 
- John McPhee, The Headmaster <http://amzn.to/2obG42j>
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9 comments:

  1. Wish I had this ability! My son says his wife can sleep standing up. Not sure it is a joke.

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  2. I can sleep anywhere at any time. I have not tried standing up....perhaps this afternoon!

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  3. That's one magic shawl!

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  4. I remember my interview with Mr Boyden. To me, he was an imposing figure at the time. If I only had known what a kind and gentle man he was!

    MGC

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  5. I love naps. My husband says when he would rotate for takeoff, he would see my eyes rotate back. Moving vehicles of any sort make me sleepy.

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  6. I remembered young Johnny Gunther attended Deerfield in "Death Be Not Proud," journalist John Gunther's book about the son's early death from a brain tumor, when the June, 1969 issue of National Geographic profiled Deerfield, with a focus on Deerfield Academy. I kept it until about 15 years ago, then gave it to a young Colorado College student who worked in my outdoors shop. He was born in Deerfield in the mid 1980s, grew up there, and graduated from the Academy. He got a kick out of seeing his hometown featured in the story, complete with a photo of one of his uncles collecting maple sap to make maple syrup.

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  7. I knew a businessman years ago who had trained himself to overcome jet lag by going to sleep (often at a meeting or in a restaurant) for 10 minutes and upon waking automatically, would be over the jet lag. He said anyone can train themselves to do this.

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  8. Churchill was a big napper too.

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