Why does it seem that we don’t take the time to rest? I’ve been reflecting on this for most of the summer, and now that my break is nearing the end, this thought is more apparent. Why is it that most of us feel, have an internal expectation, that we must always be doing something? Is it me? Society? A bit of both?
It does appear we can blame our society, but I don’t think if fair that it be the scapegoat, at least not completely. True, society does imprint upon us the value of work, and I am in no way advocating nor accepting laziness. I am talking about taking a moment to watch a nonsense TV show without guilt, or read a book, or take a walk, or a nap, without feeling the need to internally justify to yourself that it was ok not be productive for that hour or so.
Work is an important aspect of our lives. Work allows us to achieve goals, to challenge ourselves, to define our surroundings, to help another. But is our work to be so encompassing that it defines us? Are we what we do? Typically, when I meet a new person there are two basic questions I ask (cause I am asked these same questions): “What’s your name?” “What do you do?” Notice how our name, our true identity, is paired with what we do. Are we what we do or are we greater than what we do?
I am reflecting on this looking for answers which do not easily arrive. And, I fear, answers that will take up a lot more space than I should in this blog post. So, what am I trying to learn from this? A few weeks ago I was watching an episode of the TV show “Royal Pains”, and one of the characters wrote a book he entitled “L.I.F.E”. The subtitle: “Life Is For Enjoying”. Wow!! Why couldn’t I have come up with that?! It’s perfect! But the title leads to a more philosophical question, namely, is enjoyment the goal of life, or is it the end result of the meaning of life? In other words, do we strive for enjoyment in and of itself, or do we do things which bring us enjoyment and therefore, meaning to our lives?
I continually struggle with this issue, and so this blog post is not necessarily to provide answers as it is to provide me a space to ask the questions. But I found in my life’s journey that the times I allow myself to not work I can still find meaning. My faith leads me to the scriptures where we see Jesus taking time away from the crowds, going alone to pray, attending parties, and otherwise having fun with his followers. His life wasn’t all work. And the fact that the scripture writers even allow us to see that side of Jesus gives me proof that He probably did rest and enjoy Himself and His friends. Not writing about those times would not have been suspicious, and writing about those moments doesn’t necessarily add to the overall message, so the only reason to add those moments to scripture is to show us that even Jesus took time to get away and rest.
Start small. Maybe we should take 10 minutes of our day to meditate, to sit in silence and be still. To focus our attention on a phrase or an object; or simply nothing at all. Can we try this and see what happens? Can 10 minutes from my day give me the rest I need without the guilt? Not too sure about the guilt part, but I have found that spending time in silence and meditation does wonders. How about you?