On Rest and Guilt
When I take time to rest and relax, I typically am plagued by the ideas of what I could be accomplishing with my time.
I could be writing lesson plans. I could be cleaning. I could be meal prepping. I could be writing. I could be painting. I could be doing any number of productive things.
I thrive on tasks and work. I really do enjoy a fast paced day, jam packed full of things to do. It took me several years in college to perfect the art of getting more done in a shorter amount of time, and drastically cutting out all of the ways that I wasted precious moments in a void of laziness. Someone mentioned to me last week that the busier their life is, the better and fuller they get at it. I find that so true for myself.
But when I stop the hurriedness of my life to play with Leo on the living room floor, to relax on the couch with coffee and a friend, to talk on the phone for two hours with my mom, to paint something that I have no intention of selling or photographing, it is a constant temptation for me to scold myself interiorally.
I have to stop, and sometimes audibly say to myself, work is not the only reason I am alive.
It is an error of the modern world that breathes into us that we are meant for ceaseless productivity at all times. We are not. We are meant to pause and savor the little things, the ordinary, every day things that release a joy unto themselves that we can enter if we notice.
Playfulness and rest is not laziness. I know plenty of lazy people and I’ve had bouts of laziness myself. That looks like hours of Netflix for days on end and putting off work that demands a clear mind. It looks like avoiding hard things because we are overwhelmed by them.
True rest is not those things. True rest is a part of the reason life is to be enjoyed. Eating a good meal, reading a bedtime story with my kid, laughing with students as the lesson goes off the rails for a moment of two: these are things that go hand in hand with work, things that belong, things that we do not need to feel guilty about enjoying.
Over the years, I’ve increasingly enjoyed the saying “Work hard, play hard.” I think it encapsulates who we are as persons. We need both work and play, just like we need two legs and we need two hands and brain and a heart.
Working hard and playing hard together make us better humans.
So the next time your mind tells you that a moment of blissful, relaxing play is a waste of your breath, punch that thought in the face. Hard.
And then go about eating your cookies out of the box and laughing at funny memes, in radical acceptance that you are born to play and relax and do things that make you feel alive.