The Rhythm of Rest
Let’s rest here.
Rest is part of the rhythm of life. Rest isn’t the end, something we do when everything else is done. Everything else will never be done.
In music ‘rests’ define the spaces between the notes. Music itself has been defined as the space between the notes. That’s to say that the beauty of music comes in part from the rhythm of the quiet spaces – the rests – the parts where notes are not played.
In the good life rest is part of every day. Think of the 24 hours in a day divided into three parts. 8 hours for work, 8 hours for relations with others and the world, 8 hours for rest. These are not options. Without this balance, without this rhythm, the good life isn’t possible. Everything suffers.
Why is rest important?
Creativity, Character, and Conserved strength are built in rest.
Take rest: A field that has rested gives a beautiful crop.
These days everyone is talking about innovation, new ideas, breakthroughs. This is another way to say creativity. Creativity is the ability to find an undeveloped situation, see the possibilities and decide on a course of action. From the apple falling on Newton’s head, to our lucid dreams and ‘a ha’ moments it’s easy to see that creativity and rest a deeply related.
When we’re rested our feelings of love, well being, and joy are increased. That’s good for everyone. The people you want to help the most will be better served if you are rested. In rest we reconnect with the psychical and spiritual world around us in ways hard to imagine for the weary mind.
If we rush through life we miss the story, not just of the world and people around us but even the story of who we are and our purpose… our Character. Experiences in life are just things that happen to us, and are often quickly forgotten as meaningless unless we take the time to synthesize the experiences – to discover and impute the meaning the transforms our life from being just a bunch of stuff that happens to a story with meaning purpose and direction. Consider the life of any great achiever you admire and think about how much of their time was spent in a quiet contemplation that defined their achievement. Stories are simply another way to describe the rhythms and patterns of life. Character, story and rest are intimately connected.
Rest is a bank account that needs to be replenished regularly. It’s more than just the bills of daily exertion that must be paid with sleep. Rest gives us the conserved strength we need to respond to all the unexpected parts of life and not just react. No one can know what the future brings. That’s part of life. But, with rest, we can be prepared for anything. You see this in crisis. Someone yells “fire” and many react. They scream, or flee, or panic. But some respond. They figure out what to do. Even though they may not be in the fire service and have no training, they have the room to think and act. They can see what needs to be done. Their minds and bodies have the strength on account to rise to special challenges. We often hear of these unexpected and heroic things in the news. They are possible because these people are rested and ready.
So let’s rest here. Not because it’s the holiday, or the end of the year, but because each day’s work must be done, the worry must be put away, the troubles, the work the conflicts, the email and internet, will all wait until tomorrow and you’ll be better able to help with everything if you are rested.
Rest takes us beyond our senses and into our sense of self. Our eyes, ears, smell, touch, and taste are miracles of wonder, but the most powerful miracle is how our brains can filter out most of what is happening in the universe and allow us to think, to contemplate our self, our experience, and our story. That’s the magic of rest.
Rest Every day.
Writing about life, citizenship, and Nova Scotia.