This evening, out of nowhere, I fell asleep in my chair. I got nice and warm, with the glow of the Christmas tree off to my left, and before I knew it I had blinked and half an hour had slipped by. It was the most peaceful kind of nap, one that caught me totally by surprise and left me feeling refreshed, as if I had slept longer than I had. It’s been a stressful start to the final month of the year (and the first month of my thirties), and I hadn’t realized how much I needed to pump the brakes until I blinked away thirty minutes in my peaceful apartment. Sometimes, the body knows what it needs even before the brain does.
Occasionally, art will imitate life in this way. There’s certianly an art to schedule building, a lot to consider when choosing which out-of-conference teams to face in order to better prepare for the ACC season and a hopeful handful of games beyond that. There’s luck invloved, sure, but that luck has to be channeled. This year, the schedule featured a murderer’s row of opponents waiting between the Tar Heels and Christmas; a slate of (previously-ranked) Villanova, (#20) Arkansas, (#10) Tennessee, Florida State, and (#5) UConn, then a bit of a lull before (currently #16) Kentucky and (currently #19) Oklahoma.
We find ourselves in that lull, with a moment to reflect on the season that has been and the contests that are still to come. The Heels have acquitted themselves well against these tough opponents, with even the losses (to Villanova and UConn) delivering a lessened sting because of the way the team competed. A break at this point in the season is a mercy of the powers that be in collegiate sports scheduling; an opportunity to rest legs and heal from any nagging ankles or other injuries that may be lingering before the last two looming road games that constitute the final push to Christmas.
A rest is a lovely thing, but you sit down in your chair to take a load off and suddenly the Tar Heels will be back in action against Kentucky. That’s a pretty lovely thing, too.