Life is such a difficult adventure. It is fun. It is infuriating. It is hard work. It is confusing and enigmatic.
We do our best to make sense of the world around us. And when that runs dry, we trust in things outside of our internal selves.
One of the temptations is to make ourselves so busy we do not have to trust anything or anybody; we can live in the absurd delusion that we can make everything happen by our own sweat, blood, and tears. Really, it is an elaborate scheme for us to try to silence the annoying sensation that life is as much about letting go as it is about striving.
The Art of Balance
The thing we most vehemently avoid in life is balance. We think purpose is an exercise of extremity rather than moderation. As such, we become addicts of all sorts – work addicts, sex addicts, money addicts. We even become addicted to our religiosity (not the same thing as our faith), our politics, and our internal narrative that seems to run on repeat.
The best cure for all of this is rest. Not “time off”, but rest. The two are quite different.
Rest is not about the absence of something but the presence of something. It is intentional. Not an escape from the daily rhythms of life, but an essential part of the rhythm of life.
We don’t need any more encouragement to work, to exert effort. There is plenty of pressure to perform and to do.
Where we are really lacking is in our ability to be. Just be. Not need to achieve. Not need to accomplish. Not need… anything.
The irony is that in resting, in letting go, we make ourselves (in the long run) more productive, more accomplished, and more meaningful. The reason for this is that balance is a part of healthy living. Perceiving and behaving in a balanced way unlocks a mystery reality about the human experience – that we gain by letting go.
Take It With You
One of my mentors once told me I can “take my rest with me”. The idea blew my mind and has continued to transform the way I view rest, effort, and balance.
The idea is that rest and work are not two separate, mutually exclusive things where you punch the clock to end one so that the other might begin. Rest and work are meant to weave in and out of one another, to affect and bleed together.
Here is what I mean: rest provides a sense of peace, a calm that is otherwise elusive if we continue spinning the wheel of the rat race. When that calm is invited into our lives, we can then carry it into our work. We can feel peace while exerting effort. We can be calm while working on deadlines.
Balance transforms our lives. It is greater than the sum of a person who works hard on the weekdays and takes time off on the weekends. It is a person who is, in a sense, always working and always resting. Because rest is part of work just like deep breathing is part of running a marathon. Try to run your marathon and then breathe. It is a bad idea.
It is equally bad to try to wait until your time off to discover the peace that comes only through rest, introspection, and slowing down. It needs to be a rhythm, a daily (not weekly) exercise. One that transforms how you live. Something you can take with you.