So, I haven’t posted for quite the while. Journeys always have unexpected fjords and canyons and valleys and mountains to cross you see. My most recent obstacles consist of preparing for my final exams and applying to universities. Thus, considering that I am under pressure, and that I haven’t posted in a while, I wanted to write about the value of rest.
You see, there are two perspectives which have danced across my mind. One is that I, at the moment of writing, need a rest from stress and studying- hence I am writing. Two is that I, in the past few weeks, needed a rest from writing- hence I still haven’t posted the next installment of Lessons from the Elements. The situation brings to mind various old proverbs about work:
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
You see, the idea is that eventually any endeavour which yields rewards will become tedious if you treat it like work. There are many real life examples of this principle. A person starts a blog and puts out two posts everyday for three days and then never touches their blog again. A child goes to school and is incredibly excited on the first day but by the end of the term they loathe school and long for the holidays. Funnily, by the end of the holidays many people long for school.
And so we come to this idea, or principle if you like, of Rest. Now rest (note the lowercase ‘r’) by definition means “cease work or movement in order to relax, sleep, or recover strength.” What I would like to draw your attention to is the word ‘work’ in that definition. Who decides what work is? Is work something tedious or is it simply an activity? I am going to suggest that we use the idea of work as “that which we feel we must do even if we do not derive pleasure from the act itself.”
The problem then with ‘resting’ is that we are ceasing to work. Why is this a problem? Well because if we are ceasing to work it means we got to the stage where we were, as a matter of fact, working. So we were doing that which we felt we must do even though we were not deriving pleasure from it.
The principle of Rest is that we never get to a stage where we find ourselves having to cease working- because we will never work at all. I strongly believe that if we never work we will be vastly more productive than those who are working. The principle of Rest is thus: to ensure that all activities in which we engage remain pleasing to us in and of themselves. Allow me to elaborate. In the situation where a man goes to a boring job which he thoroughly hates, he is working. He does derive pleasure from the money his job brings, but then he is not deriving pleasure in the act itself. Simply, he is working.
We must do all things in such a way that we continuously enjoy the act of the thing itself. I am writing right now not because I will gain pleasure from people reading my little blog (although that is a pleasure) but because I enjoy writing. Do you see then that the pleasure I gain from you reading this is then simply surplus? And that if nobody reads this at all I wont feel robbed- but the man I described above would certainly feel robbed if he received less pay.
Ah but how? That is a very difficult question to answer. The first step is simple enough: recognise the natures of work, rest, and Rest. The second, I imagine, is to balance everything you do as a regular activity with something opposite in nature. Sometimes I need a break from writing so I read. Sometimes I need a break from reading so I write. Sometimes I need a break from words so I watch YouTube.
Unfortunately I cannot give you a formula. In part the answer is cliche: do what you enjoy. Do not be fooled by the fact that this is cliche however. Recognise that it is a cliche for a reason- it’s true. The moment you do something you don’t enjoy you are working.
There is only one solution I can see in light of that cliche.
- Step one: recognise the natures of work, rest, and Rest.
- Step two: balance all activities you do.
- Step three: do what you enjoy.
- Step four: enjoy what you do.
Wait what? Enjoy what you do? What are you even saying? You just repeated yourself you blithering idiot! All these useless words scrawled across a page basically telling everybody something they already know in slightly abstract sentences to make yourself seem smart and to make people feel bad about themselves so they try to change their lives while you don’t even take your own advice what exactly are you getting at I cannot even handle myself right now I’m going to f-*
Shush. It is very simple. Enjoy what you do means to find something to enjoy in everything you do. Ultimately there will be activities we are forced to do. That would mean then that we are going to be forced into work by life. So no. We deserve to live in the best way possible. Towards that goal our brains grant us the ability to change our perceptions. If we are forced into doing something there will always be some reason to enjoy it. I was forced to go on a boot camp for gr.11. I didn’t want to. I did not want to walk 30km with a 14kg pack whilst carrying a four man tent. I worked for about half of the first day of the camp. Then I Rested. I Rested because I found something in the activity to enjoy and focused solely on that. It’s the only reason I did not give up.
Realise the power you have within yourself to dictate what is work and what is play and you will be able to accomplish far more than you thought possible.
*That little rant in bold was me taking a break from writing so seriously, sorry if the blog post was a bit ramble-y.