“To rest is to rust.”
Said the chicken scratch on a random piece of yellow paper. We found it on top of the microwave a few days after burying our father.
His barely legible handwritten platitude could not have come at a better time. He leaves us suddenly, without warning, and here was his final wish. On top of the microwave. On some random piece of yellow paper.
Sadly, or gladly, my brothers and I did not need such a posthumous reminder. Hard work had been embedded in our bloodstream. There wasn’t going to be much rusting in the Sullivan family.
If anything, learning to rest has been more of my lifelong struggle. I could use more putting my feet up. Unproductivity. Sitting on the couch, if not with bon-bons, at least with a big bowl of popcorn and a side order of carelessness.
But what actually does it mean to rest?
Most of us think in passive terms. That resting is some equivalent of stopping work.
Actually, rest is an active practice. One where we intentionally seek a restoration of resources – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
We rest when we set boundaries. Embrace timelessness. Unplug. Seek the company of the natural world. Learn. De-stimulate our environment. Breathe. Listen to our bodies, our minds, our hearts and souls. Play. Create. Slow down and let go.
This week, I found myself sitting in the back of Montgomery County’s jury lounge, fulfilling my civic duty. I was pulled away from my day-to-day routine into a forced rest. Maybe. As I scanned the room of the several hundred jurists, I saw the typical patron relaxing into their day off. Some were scrolling social media on their phone. Others were sleeping or reading a newspaper. They were enjoying life’s free pass. Biding his/her precious time as if it won’t run out someday.
Not me, of course. I schlepped my weighty bag of time-filling urgent activities. Notes to write. Non-fiction books to read. Blogs to catch-up on. Programs to plan. Christmas lists to make. I was going to use my time wisely while they took too long to decide that a psychotherapist could not be an impartial jurist on a child sex abuse case.
Once free to go, I flew out of there as if some jail bird. Free for another year before being called again to take a number, take a seat and sacrifice the time of my life for the privilege of American democracy.
Meanwhile, I’m going to scribble a note and leave it on top of the microwave.
“To savor is divine.”
That one will surely make them laugh.
For the rise of your life …