A good rest

We drive ourselves from one exhaustion to another. We pace our societies by the pace of our computers. We conduct the major relationships of our lives—both professional and personal—according to the speed of our communications. We measure ourselves by the amount of our productivity and every day we become more exhausted, less rested in body, spirit and mind, and so less capable of producing things, let alone of developing relationships, as a result. That’s not irony, that’s tragedy. And though we know it, we do not know what to do about it.

Maybe what we all need most is time to process what we already know so that we can put it together differently, even more effectively than ever before. Maybe we need to think a bit, out on a porch in a summer breeze, down by the creek when the trout are running, back in the garden when it’s time to put the beets and beans in again.

Turn off the television and read a good book. Quit texting and ride your bike. Close the computer and go to a movie. Don’t answer any email. Don’t try to “get ahead.” Don’t take any callbacks. And during the family dinner, turn off the phone. And when the television is on, watch it instead of talking through it. Reclaim your life, your thoughts, your personality, your friends, your family.

No, the world will not end. And no, the rest of the staff will not get ahead of you. They’ll be too tired to even think about catching up.

It’s time to sleep in like you did in the good old days. Have a late breakfast. Read the newspapers all day long. Call some friends in for a game of pinochle. As Ashleigh Brilliant says, “Sometimes the most urgent and vital thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest.”

As the proverb teaches, “A good rest is half the work.” At least, that is, if you really want to be productive.

— excerpted from Between the Dark and the Daylight by Joan Chittister

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