I’ve been hanging out at home alone a lot these days – there is a remarkable peace in just sitting in the dark and being quiet. I’ve had enough of being busy all the time, and now, I’m reclaiming years of lost weekends and… rest!
Rest is under-rated. I think you might have seen my earlier post about sorting out your health and how, in the world we live in now, rest is pooh-poohed away as something only for the weak. In our over-achieving, over-aching, competitive need to keep going keep going keep going, we forget that there really is a thing as a burn out, or hitting a wall. Boom! I’ve hit the wall, so hard it almost split my forehead.
I keep screaming this thing about how if I worked just 8 hours a day, the quality (and quantity) of work that I’d be able to deliver (all wrapped nicely too, with a polka dotted bow) would be far better than if I just worked and worked and worked, 15 hours a day or whatever it is, non stop non stop non stop. Because I tell ya, once you hit that wall, no matter how many hours you force your nose to the grindstone, nothing decent ever comes out. For a long time, nobody would believe me, but then again, I guess it’s hard to these days, when we fill up our schedules with endless appointments and meetings and assignments and deadlines; followed by dinners and drinks and coffees and suppers. You couldn’t imagine what it would possibly be like to have a whole hour with nothing penned into it. But heck, I don’t really care anymore if nobody believes me. I’m going to do just what I want to – and that includes rest.
A wonderful friend, Anne Jones, said to me only recently that the best way to tell if something is wrong is to listen first and foremost to your physical body – it will tell you all that you need to know. And I am learning now more than ever how true this is. (There are also plenty of books out there which explain that the body reacts physiologically and physically to situations far before we are even aware of it mentally or emotionally. Read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, it’s fantastic).
This extends into things like eating – being more mindful about the foods we’re eating and how we’re eating. It extends into intuitive feelings that you literally and physically feel in the pit of your stomach, in your sweaty palms, in breathlessness etc (another post on that soon). It extends to that simple but powerful action of recognising that your body just doesn’t feel right and that you need to do something about it – right down to the basics of sleep and physical rest, or in some cases, physical exercise, sunshine and fresh air.
I thought Anne was oversimplifying things when she told me to listen to my body. But it’s Mind Over Matter, isn’t it? I would tell myself over and over, Mind over matter Mind over matter Mind over matter. I believed that if I was going to be in that complex business of working with my mind, if I was going to be a huge raving success of a legend, then I shouldn’t let a little tiredness and sleep deprivation get in the way of this Great Mind.
Thing is, if we’re going to think like that, then we may as well believe that we’re immortal, that we can jump off the 33rd floor and fly, that we can go for days without eating, that we can fart rainbows. And yes, while there may well be famous Yogis in India or the Himalayas or in some fantastical temple somewhere who perhaps can fly and go for days without eating, that would have been with years of physical training; not just because they decided, one day, that it was mind over matter and they would wake up the next morning and jump off the edge of a Himalayan cliff.
What I mean to say is that like it or not, our body does have physical limits and physical reactions to things. We’re all just bigger versions of a test-tube – the simple, basic scientific products of biology. That means our palms sweat when we’re nervous, we feel hungry, we need to fart sometimes, we have pain, we get pimples, we get fat if we eat too much (well, most of us), and our bodies sometimes, get a little tired. No matter how much we’d like to think we’re an impervious X-man with extraordinary powers, we’re probably not – our bodies, more often than not, know our limits and what we really need, and it could do a world of good to listen to this person that’s closest to us – ourselves.
Rest – is that too much to ask for?
So I’m enjoying this thing called rest. If I want to jump back into bed after breakfast these days, I will (well okay, for just a few more months, I don’t suppose I can do this forever – I’ll get bored at some point. There is also such a thing as sleeping too much!).
I’m earning about RM1,000 for a day’s worth of writing at the moment. Not too shabby, I think. I could be happy with that, or I could keep going keep going keep going to overwork, overachieve and get RM10,000 a week. But heck, is it really worth it?
I’m choosing to listen to my body and right now, it’s saying no, it’d rather have a nap today.