I occasionally wonder if anyone in the history of the world has embraced middle age as fully as I have. As a 40-year-old, I observe the following:
- I have less hair to worry about. Until I was about 30, my hair was so thick it was a nuisance. Barbers remarked they really ought to get out a lawnmower to get the job done. My hair care budget was exorbitant. Now, however, my hair is obligingly simultaneously thinning out and backing off. The day where I shave it off once and for all is not far off.
- I am mellower. Once upon a time, career stuff freaked me out. So did the future. So did politics. Now, very few things freak me out, and nothing freaks me out for long.
- I can own a red sports car with impunity. I’ve always loved red sports cars. As a middle-aged man, owning one is now my right.
- I am entering the prime age for the kind of cycling I like best. Go to any endurance cycling event and you’ll notice: most of the guys are 40-55 years old. Now I’m one of them.
The thing I like best about middle age, though, is my newfound ability to — after an epic ride — take a nap.
I haven’t always been able to take naps, you see. Until about a year ago, no matter how tired I was, I simply couldn’t sleep during the day. I’d go on a big ol’ hundred mile training ride, get home, eat everything that looked even a little bit like food, and then drag around the house all day. Totally useless, but awake.
Or, on the rare occasion when I did fall asleep during the day, I’d wake later with a logy feeling, a low-grade headache, and an unfocused grouchiness.
And then I wouldn’t be able to sleep that night.
All that’s changed now. After a four-hour ride I’ll come home, eat everything in my zip code, go take a shower, and come back downstairs to the family room, still feeling beat.
“I think I’ll lay down here for a few minutes,” I’ll tell my wife, as I stretch out on the couch.
This is not a signal to my wife to keep the kids quiet. It is not a signal to her to do anything out of the ordinary, except maybe not give me the phone if someone calls.
Part of the magic of my new nap-taking-gift, you see, is that I like sleeping with the family around. The kids are still playing, my wife’s still working on jewelry, and I’m close by. While I definitely get wakened a few times during my nap, it doesn’t bother me.
40 minutes — or maybe sometimes an hour — later, I wake up. And I feel good. Not headachy. Not logy. Not grouchy. Good.
Better than I usually feel after a full night’s sleep, actually.
And I know that I’ll be able to sleep just fine that night, too. Naps don’t throw me off my sleep cycle at all.
I tell you, a nap after a long ride is pure magic. I’m so glad I can enjoy them now.