The Art of Rest
We are often reluctant to rest. Maybe we believe taking a break will cause us to fall behind. Maybe we have accomplished something and we are afraid to lose it. However, rest does not hurt us — it heals us. Rest gives us the strength to come back stronger and it provides us space to evaluate where we have been, where we are and where we are headed.
We are not being selfish when we rest. Rest is an opportunity to better understand what we have been given and what we are meant to give in this life. It is a chance to find a better footing on the ground — a footing that will allow us to share the best of ourselves.
When we are in a state of constant motion, our vision becomes blurry. We might lose track of what really matters. We might even forget our reason why. Worst case scenario, our tired eyes may lead us down a road we never intended to travel.
I am not my best self when I am tired. My temper shortens and my nerves become agitated. I can feel myself getting both hot and cold. I can sense the inner fire that kept me warm fading away. The creative spark that was once a good friend becomes a distant stranger.
Last week I felt unusually tired. My brain was both empty and cluttered. It felt like there was a grey fog hovering over me. I could no longer see the beautiful city lights I once knew so well. This made me nervous. I wondered whether I would be able to see those lights again.
I also felt depleted creatively. I could not write or make anything — there was no story I wanted to tell. I felt stagnant. I felt like I had been running for awhile, except I was on a treadmill heading nowhere.
The weeks leading up to these feelings were lonely. I had recently moved back to my apartment full-time. Previously, I was spending most weeks at my mom’s house because of the pandemic. Living alone during the lockdown felt isolating so I used that time to reconnect with family.
Those moments back home have a special place in my heart. I had not lived in the same house as my mom in over ten years. I got to greet her every morning and every night. She would pick my spirits up at the end of a long workday and I would do the same for her. I also got to rekindle relationships with other family members. Many of my cousins lived nearby and I would see them every afternoon usually. These interactions were a break in my day — they cut through whatever I was doing and brought me back to earth.
On June 15th, the lockdown rules in California ended. I was comfortable at my mom’s house, but I knew I had to go back into the world. I knew I had to start living again so I moved my belongings back to my apartment.
During the first few weeks, I found myself working more than usual. I saw friends here and there, but for the most part, I spent my time writing or working on other projects. Instead of greeting my mom in the morning, I now greet a computer screen.
I love my work, sometimes a little too much. Loving what we do is a slippery slope. Sometimes we get consumed in what we love. Sometimes we turn the blinders on and neglect everything else. This can leave us feeling exhausted. This can drain the life out of us.
Last week, I fell down that slippery slope. I needed to pump the brakes. Usually, I look at the glass half full, but instead I was thinking of everything going wrong or not as planned. I was thinking of everything I did not have but wanted. I started doubting my ability to do things. I started thinking, “Am I even good at writing? Am I capable of writing a novel one day? Where is my writing career going — is it even going anywhere at all?”
I knew these thoughts were not me. I knew I needed to recalibrate. I needed to step back and clear my mind. I have had these thoughts and feelings before — they usually occur when I am working too hard.
I work most days, but last weekend I put everything aside. I called some friends and we went to the beach. I had not been to the beach in a long time. The ocean wind felt like it was going to pick me up as it blew on by. It sounded like the crushing waves were singing a lullaby just for me. My favorite part was lying in the sun. The sun was welcoming me into its home ever so gently, like a tender friend would. I felt the rays of sunshine energizing me, like a flower just beginning to blossom.
I spent a majority of the day talking with my friends as we sat on the sand. We saw very little of each other during the pandemic. We had a lot of catching up to do. We laughed at stories from our past — stories of how dumb and young we used to be. We shed some tears for people and things we now miss. We realized how precious some of the moments from our past actually were. We talked about our struggles and our visions for the future. We did not explicitly say this, but deep down we were all hopeful. We knew that our best days were still ahead of us.
We ended the day by sharing a meal together. One of our friends marinated some food for us the night before. After the beach, we went back to his place to eat. There is something special about sharing food with people. Conversations immediately get more interesting when food is involved. Things come to mind you might have otherwise never thought about.
One of my friends was telling us about a movie script he was writing. He has been working in the film industry as a production assistant for years with the hopes to one day write and produce his own movies. He is one of the funniest people I know, and when he gets his big break, the world will know that too. The script he told us about was hilarious — I almost fell off my seat two times because I was laughing so hard. I hope this movie gets made one day so you can laugh with us too.
The night ended and we all went our separate ways. I drove home with a wonderful feeling in my heart. I did not make any money that day but I felt richer nonetheless. As I listened to music on the drive home, I noticed how lovely the city lights looked. They pierced through the night like glistening yellow gold. I then thought to myself, “If hope could be anything, this is what it would be.”
We all need to rest. Sometimes rest takes the form of quality time with family and friends. Other times rest takes the form of putting our phones away while we curl up with a book and blanket on the couch. Without rest, our work suffers. A tired body loses its heart, and without heart, we have nothing.
The first step in resting is to cease what we are doing. It is to stop the inner dialogue we have with ourselves — the one where we tell ourselves we are far behind and we must keep going at all costs. Nothing is worth pursuing at all costs. This is what a tyrant would want us to believe. Everything in life is a give and a take. It is a marriage between this and that. It is the intertwining of the yin with the yang.
When we are rested, we become our most perfect selves. We become braver and more courageous. We become more willing to share our gifts with others. The gifts we share also become more profound. They turn us into someone others will want to remember, even after we are gone.
If we are feeling tired, we must not worry. Being tired is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to step back and to appreciate what was and what is. It is an opportunity to stare out into the distance and to marvel at the beautiful future that lies ahead. It is an opportunity to lay down and close our eyes until the sun comes back, which it will. Once we are rested, the sun will rise again. It will tiptoe through our windows just like it always has. It will welcome us with a warm and loving smile. You will see — I promise.
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