Rest as an act of piety

Okay, so for those of you who are Judeo-Christian, perhaps this is no big deal for you; however, recently I have been healing from a neck/back injury that I sustained while working out several days ago. Almost “randomly” (I use aggressive quotes here, because I don’t believe anything is truly random – everything is a result of an interconnected cause/effect), I also got a message saying the following:

“To let in goodness, slow down. Relax. Unwind. Be calm. Let go. Now you are letting it in.”

I was supposed to be in Philadelphia this weekend, even though I normally take the weekend of July 4 off each year for my birthday. My experience over the years is that it’s pointless to work that weekend, whether it be the clubs or seeing clients, because EVERYONE is out doing something with friends/family/fireworks. Contrary to popular presumptions, holidays are generally NOT good weekends to be at the club or on-call. So, that Philly trip was going to pull a total goose egg (which reminded me why I stay home and celebrate my birthday). Then I injured myself two days before I turned 24 for the 13th time (I started being 24 when I was 22), and thought, “Well, I’ll go and see a historic city do a pyrotechnics show for my birthday.” But the real reason I was going to go, despite the injury and the slow weekend, was because I didn’t want to “lose” the nonrefundable plane ticket. Rest was not truly on my mind. But then I got that message, and I realized that what I really, really wanted for my birthday was to stay home (as I would have in any other year).

So, I stayed home.

And that has been the most amazing, healing time. Although I was in some intense pain for several days, it has gotten better BECAUSE I RESTED. This isn’t engineering or brain surgery; however, I made a realization about myself. I am a bit like my grandparents and the other Depression babies of that generation: I am so phobic of ever again being in a financial situation like the one I experienced after I left my last relationship that I have become obsessed with money that I don’t even need (in the hopes of staving off a crisis that hasn’t happened). Poverty is an ugly, wretched situation, and I don’t want to experience that type of stress ever again. But working myself half to death over the last five years has, from time to time, exacerbated the issue when I then had to spend money needlessly on hospital visits for exhaustion or injuries. It’s only in the last 6-12 months that I have really started implementing the idea of working smarter, not harder, and I cannot suggest it enough to others. Whatever you’re doing that’s so damn important, carve out some time to just rest. Find a way: It’s essential.

If I’d gone to Philly, I’m convinced I would have just sat in my hotel in pain from having traveled. By staying in Charlotte I got to lay IN MY BED for three days WITH KITTEH (I almost rested myself into insanity), I celebrated a low key birthday with some close friends, and I watched LOTS of nerdy History Channel videos about how Extra Terrestrials helped our ancestors build megalithic sites. And you know what? It’s exactly what I needed. The workaholic in me was given the shut-the-hell-up-thank-you-very-much eyebrow.

Before when I’ve said I wanted to rest more it was simply because of fatigue. But now I’m realizing that rest itself is what heals us at deeper levels, and if there is something sacred within us, then it makes sense that caring for it and caring for ourselves are completed interwoven. So I guess it’s not just a luxury, it’s a spiritual duty to give yourself adequate downtime. The Hebrews were right: A day of rest is sacrosanct. Sorry if I’m slow to realizing this, but that’s how I am.

Author: Devon Hunter

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  1. From a reader:

    “It’s important to be heroic, ambitious, productive, efficient, creative, and progressive, but these qualities don’t necessarily nurture the soul. The soul has different concerns, of equal value: downtime for reflection, conversation, and reverie; beauty that is captivating and pleasuring; relatedness to the environs and to people; and any animal’s rhythm of rest and activity.

    Thomas Moore 1779 – 1852”

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  2. Thank you, Devon, for your thoughts. I have been a victim, possibly, of having a puffed-up self-image that needed reshaping. Your thoughts have been helpful in reminding me of the dependence on ‘rest’ as equally important, if not more, than those virtues which appear (to me) to be important in my life, but are not as high in priority.

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  3. I’ve had a serious flu Devon so I do identify with this. You are so right.

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