Take five...no really.
Time. Our greatest asset. Our most important investment. Our most squandered gift. Rest is essential, and it is something that needs to be practiced, set aside, and made intentional.
I’m a nurse, and in the hospital we work 12 hour shifts. Last week I worked four 12 hour shifts in a row. The fourth shift happened to be Sunday, March 14. Day Light Savings. Spring ahead...so on Saturday night I had to go to bed knowing that my fourth day in a row, I would be running off 1 hour less sleep.
Understandably, by the end of my last shift, I was absolutely exhausted. My tired feet dragged as I walked to the hospital parking lot. And then I looked up, half blinded, to see a glorious orange ball of fire in the sky, lion king style. (Now you’re singing the song in your head, you’re welcome…) See, for months it had been pitch black when I left the hospital. I had completely forgotten that summer time Day Light Savings means that it's an hour earlier...
So I stopped for 30 seconds, I smiled at the glorious sunset, and breathed the deep early spring air. And in that moment, I rested, with the golden glow on my face. Well deserved. Much needed. A rest that inspires.
I took a picture to remember that moment.
Rest. A walk outside of the office on a lunch break. A weekend away. An evening with your phone off, just with your thoughts. A blank page. A flight to a new town. A coffee shop. A book. A wholesome TV show. A trip home. A trip away.
“Work is not always required, there is a such thing as sacred idleness.” -George MacDonald
This was one of the quotes I lived and breathed by, my first year out of college. My new husband and I were drowning in student loan debt, and I was working as much overtime as I possibly could. Any time I wasn’t working, I felt lazy. Purposeless, lagging behind. Anxious, because I thought productivity was the only measure of success. This quote above grounded me again into the present. Honestly, this quote kept me sane.
"The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it." Thoreau
But how do we know ourselves if we never unplug? Unwind? Untangle the string of thoughts, knotted around in our minds. How do we make sense of our emotions, if we never take them out of the “junk drawer”, where we stash complicated feelings/emotions/thoughts that we don’t have time for in the moment?
The great Socrates, in his brief but poignant wisdom, said “Know thyself”.
Our bodies can carry on with food, water, and shelter. But we are not utilitarian only, we are souls housed in human flesh. Our souls need sustenance. We need beauty, we need joy, we need immaterial things to be whole. And to neglect the latter as superfluous, or as simply “higher on the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” is a lie.
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in.” -John Muir
The emotional is manifested in the physical. When you’re going through a time of stress, your eyes may be dog beat tired at the end of an exhausting day, but still you lie awake watching the shadows on the ceiling, willing your mind to turn off.
To know ourselves, we have to take time to know why we do what we do. We must reflect. Our culture does not have space for reflection.
“Worked so hard, forgot how to vacation” -Post Malone
What an ironic tragedy, that we can work hard enough to not know how to enjoy the fruits of our labors?
So, how do we water our souls?
There is a simple concept of energy buckets. Imagine you have 4 red buckets. Let’s give them names: Emotional. Mental. Physical. Spiritual.
What are some ways that you are filled with energy? What will fill one of those buckets? Could there be buckets that fill two of them at the same time? What about three?
We make time for what we value. That being said, we live in denial all the time. The degree of our happiness is a direct parallel with how much our values align with how we are actually living our lives. Conversely, the degree of discontent we feel is directly proportional to how we misalign our time with our values.
So, considering how much time each week you actually can pursue life giving things, it is best to optimize that time with the most life giving thing.
Example: I love baking, it fills the emotional bucket for me. My favorite thing to bake is lemon blueberry scones. But I love running more. It fills the mental, physical, and sometimes even spiritual bucket. If I have an hour and only have time for one, I will choose running because it is more fulfilling.
I think we do rest, but we rest without intentionality. I love TV just as much as the next person: it is engaging, relaxing and has a wonderful way of escaping reality momentarily. But I’ve learned I resent myself after I watch too much of it. Honestly, I just don’t have the will power to turn off the TV when Netflix gives me 10 seconds before the next episode begins.
Ours is the generation who has forgotten how to live from the depths.
We live distracted lives, rushing to the next thing. We use busy-ness as an excuse for almost anything; it is like our filler word, when people ask how we are doing. And we are so used to noise that we are actually uncomfortable without it.
If you don’t believe me, try sitting on your couch for twenty minutes with your phone in another room, and just sit with your thoughts. I bet you can’t do it. I tried. I watched the window outside, watched the water droplets slip off green leaves in the rain. I listened to the gushing storm drains.
I would love to say that I could have watched the rain for hours, but after twenty minutes, I got bored.
Would I do it again? Absolutely. Would I last longer, if I did? Probably.
See, rest is something that needs to be practiced. Set aside. Made intentional. That’s why I only made it twenty minutes at that window; one must build up strength.
Rest, like patience, must be cultivated. It does not come pre-packaged, it cannot be bought. But it will cost you.
Time. Our greatest asset. Our most important investment. Our most squandered gift.
Rest is something we resent, because it is uncomfortable and counter-cultural...but it makes us grateful.
We need to learn how to cultivate the fruit of patience. Patience and rest go hand in hand, like peanut butter and jelly. Contentment, akin to patience is not something that comes when the exact circumstances align. It is chosen and then tirelessly cultivated.
Let’s make friends with silence. Let's get comfortable with hearing the mutterings of our own thoughts. We may learn something from them. Let’s find creative outlets to recharge, so we can be 100% in our work lives, our home lives, our interpersonal lives. Yes, that’s right. This rest thing isn’t just for your benefit. It bleeds into all the people your life touches. What do you radiate?
“Our time is our life, and our attention is the doorway to our hearts.” -John Mark Comer
What I am nudging you to do is rest intentionally. Make time for it as sacred idleness, as MacDonald would say.
Maybe you don’t even have hobbies! Maybe you don’t know how you unwind. That’s okay, too. How exciting, that you have so much to learn about yourself. You will find parts of yourself lying dormant after a long winter, you will see new colors and notice beauty where you have been blind to it, before. The unique shape of each snowflake. The way the sun’s rays creep across the kitchen floor on a still quiet morning. The way that music can move you.
Make space for things to grow in your life. The gnawing emptiness you feel is because that space is meant to be filled with something. Find it. Nourish it. Water your soul.
“My rest is a weapon against the oppression of man’s obsession to control things.” -Josh Garrels
Let’s take water breaks, in this game we call life. You are not weak for needing to sit out on the sidelines at times. In fact, you were not meant to play through the whole game straight through. Any basketball player worth their salt would tell you that. And you will play the game better when you catch your breath, regroup, and get your head on straight again.
“Time is non-refundable, use it with intention.” -Moin Sheikh