What is my relationship with rest? Currently very estranged. I am uncertain if we are on speaking terms. Delegation is not the issue since I outsourced my most time-consuming and labor-intensive task. I’ve been trying to sit and do nothing since I woke up this morning. My granny never let the sun catch us in bed. She had no concept of vacation. The only day she rested was her Sabbath and even that involved copious amounts of cooking and ironing clothes for church. Nothing upsets a Jamaican parent more than seeing an idle child. There was also something to do. My mother was up before the sun and worked all day and night. Rest was for lazy people. I remember summers in Jamaica when it was so hot, that my sisters and I sat in the one room that had an electric fan, trying to find the closest spot. This was probably one of the few times where we were absolutely still since that was the only respite from the heat. There were also rare moments of laying in the grass under the mango tree daydreaming. When I was a little girl, my grandparents’ land was a place of wonder and adventure. When we later returned for a funeral, I was shocked at how small it seemed. My relationship with rest has been forged by my thoughts. I have reinforced rest as worthlessness.
Tricia Hersey said, “I don’t have to earn rest” during an interview. She is the founder of The Nap Ministry. As a result of listening to the talk (on 1.5x speed), I realized that rest and I had been living separate lives for some time. Can this relationship be saved? Am I doomed to pity parties about how tired I am and feeling guilty for taking a break? Can I join the resistance and figure out “How will I be useless to capitalism today?” – Brone Velez Rest is not impossible. I have had lazy days. Even the term lazy days holds clues to the context in which I view rest. Lazy is defined by Merriam-Webster as “disinclined to activity or exertion: not energetic or vigorous.” Why did it get such a bad rap? People recovering from injuries are told to limit their activity and exertion. Sleep deprivation is equivalent to being drunk. My cat has no issues keeping still for hours. My personal upbringing teaches me to listen for the still quiet voice. The stillness is drowned out by distractions.
Proverbs 24:33-34 New International Version
“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.” Perhaps due to Max Weber’s ideas tying economic success to salvation and my personal indoctrination as a youth makes rest a challenging concept. Many Judeo-Christian beliefs have a concept of a Sabbath. It is a day set aside for rest and worship. There are prescribed activities for those holy days. There are also cultural examples of rest such as siesta which is a rest often during the hottest part of the day. Aesop praises the industrious ant and mocks the musical grasshopper. There are many examples of being punished for rest. We are expected to be productive for the entirety of our workday despite studies showing that employees who take regular breaks are actually more productive. Who’s afraid of the big bad nap? Me.
All stillness is not created equal. When people are overwhelmed, they can shut down. They may go through the motions and appear to be productive but are often on auto-pilot. I am not advocating rest to result in increased productivity. According to Tricia Hersey, “Rest disrupts and pushes back.” It will not be easy to sit with my ideas of rest and restoration. The loud voice in my head shrieks at me to be useful. My youngest asked me what I would do if I knew I had a week left to live. I told him probably finish getting things in order. Then he did something absolutely magical. He said to skip ahead ten years and you did all that. Then what would you do? I allowed myself to envision a family trip. Me still being me, it will most likely be jam-packed and anything but leisurely. He laughed at the thought of cramming in every last bit of activity into our final vacation. My dad says to give him flowers while he is still living. I think it’s similar to acknowledging the need for rest while we are alive. Otherwise, what kind of life is this? Namaste After I post this, I am going to rest. No phone. No stimuli. It will probably kill me 😊