I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of productivity. You probably expected this to start with a line about resting, but nope. Surprise! Productivity is something I’ve considered from different angles for years, but the pandemic has repeatedly pushed it to the forefront.
Here’s a bit of what I mean. Do you all remember at the start of COVID19 last March, when we were bombarded with messages like:
“Here’s how you can get in WICKED shape during the next month!”
“Use this time to launch your side hustle!”
“Our app is free for the next 6 weeks so that you can kick ass at everything!”
“Pick up 7 new hobbies – one for every day of the week!”
“If you aren’t cooking every meal from scratch, what are you even doing with your life?!”
Blech. I mean, yes. Sure. That was helpful to have other things to focus on during a time of chaos and confusion and fear. There were benefits to that approach. But I worry it may also have set us up to believe that we needed to (and could) maintain that level of energy, drive, and production through the WHOOOOOOOLE pandemic.
Here’s the thing:
Growth is beautiful.
It is important.
Learning is powerful.
Changing and shifting and blossoming – Yes! I am here for it! Show me all the blossoming!
Everything in the natural world grows in cycles.
Think about the trees in the park. Your favorite flowers. Wild animals who nest, hibernate, and cultivate at different times and at different intensities throughout the year.
There is a natural ebb and flow.
Some seasons are busy and growth-centric.
Others are restful and dormant.
And each season is critical to the growth and life cycle of living things.
But somehow, we’ve gotten it into our heads that, as humans, we ought to be the exception. That we should be able to produce in all seasons, at any hour, constantly moving at 105%. That somehow, we are outside of nature’s order.
But what if we could open another possibility for ourselves, our families, and our communities?
What if we could create a space where experiencing our human need for rest includes responding to and honoring that need?
I’m not advocating for never producing, but I am wondering… What if our presence here on this planet is about more than just producing? What if it’s also about connection and presence, gentleness and rest, compassion and delight? What if we embraced ourselves as humanBEINGs and not just humanDOINGs?
I guess I’m just suggesting: Maybe we too should rest sometimes, and, as Mary Oliver says “let the soft creature of our body love what it loves.”
I would be remiss if I did not add this note: It is important to acknowledge that, because of the way our society is structured, the ability to rest IS a privilege. Unfortunately, it’s not afforded to everyone. Which reminds us that we need to continue working toward equitable systems that support ALL of our community members. On a local level. A state level. A national level. A global level. Together, we heal and move toward wholeness.
And now, as promised in the excerpt: Here’s your bonus content!
Self-Reflection Journal Prompt
What are your favorite ways to rest? Do you prefer resting in solitude or with others? Does your need for rest shift throughout the year in response to seasonal changes? Are there any modifications you could make to honor this need in your life? How could your day or week be different if you were able to check in with and follow your natural rhythms for rest? How can you play a role in building a community that values being and resting?