Monday, September 26, 2011

Observation and subject for the day: Penny, my cat, sleeps a lot. I am told, and it has been my experience, that most cats sleep a lot. I suppose a cat that did not sleep a lot would be the exception. That is not to say that it would not be unheard of. I imagine that there are variations in the amount of sleep that a cat needs—or wants—as there are variations in humans. My doctor recently told me that I should get eight hours of sleep each night plus naps during the day. I took exception to that because I was never in my life happy with eight hours sleep at night. I felt logy all day after getting that much sleep. I did better with six or seven hours. Maybe one does need more sleep as one gets older. I always appreciated naps during the day but when I was younger they were twenty minutes in duration. Now they are about an hour long. So maybe my doctor is right and I do need more sleep.

Still, I don’t really agree with the standard of eight hours sleep being what everyone needs at night. That may be an average but who do you know who is entirely average? I venture to say that an entirely average person does not exist. I read once that Winston Churchill’s habit was to work four hours and then sleep two. In doing that, he did get eight hours sleep in a twenty-four hour period but in his own way.

Each of us is an individual and each of us has variations of likes and dislikes and of what works best. Some of us are “day” people and some “night” people, for instance. Variations of behavior exist in animals as well as people. I remember when I heard a member of the Pennsylvania Game Commission being interviewed on the radio. The subject of the springtime interview was how to prevent wild animals raiding gardens. The conversation turned to folk remedies for same—such as pepper, garlic, beer or other natural treatments. The Commission officer was asked if they worked. Some do, he answered, and if you try such a remedy and it works, then use it. But, he cautioned, one must remember that each wild animal is an individual. A remedy that works for one may not work for his brother, his sister or his cousin.

What goes for animals goes for humans. We humans don’t all like the same things or the same patterns of behavior. If each of us were free to work out a pattern of behavior that suited us and that did not harm others, we’d all probably be a good deal happier. The way the world works is not conducive to making that sort of thing possible. So, each of us has to make the best of being as average as possible. That way we “fit in.” Ironically, it’s often those people who manage to break that pattern of behavior and are untypical that succeed in contributing the most to the progress of society and the world. That’s something to think about, isn’t it?

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