ponder: rest

i keep running across the concept of rest in different contexts. i’m not sure i have anything deep to say, but you’re all learning that i like to talk about it when things get thematic in my life. so i figure i’ll just start listing “rest” concepts and see where that takes us. oooo! a journey! very exciting!

rest as sleep. the body has stopped. the mind hasn’t, but it’s not consciously grinding away. ideally, it’s a sort of rest we get regularly and it lets us start anew, refreshed. i am a big fan of this sort of rest.

rest in peace. it’s something people say who don’t even believe in spirits. so i know part of it is just habit. it’s just something you say when people die. but i think even those who don’t believe in spirits really do hope that this ending has also brought an end to whatever pain or hurt the person had. for those who believe in an afterlife, i’m sure the intent varies. we hope the person who’s gone on has gone on to better. for some folks, they figure they’ve gone on to a sort of eternal lying about. to others, it’s more that they’ve left the cares of this life behind and gone on to a different set of things.

give it a rest. it’s not quite the same as “shut up,” is it? because we don’t generally mean that the person ought to shut up in general, more that it’s time to stop on a particular topic.

day of rest. in the Judeo-Christian traditions, even God took a day to stop working. that’s where the sabbath comes from. that said, surely God didn’t hole up and ignore everything that day. and those who keep a sabbath don’t just spend the whole day sitting on their bums or sleeping. at the very least, the one thing most have in common (since even within one church the ideas of what is appropriate can vary) is that adherents cease their normal labours and tasks.

r&r (rest and recreation). most people see these two things as tied together. so that getting a good rest from work doesn’t have to mean doing nothing or just sleeping (though it can). and people can come back from active holidays feeling well-rested.

naomi offers rest to ruth. for those who didn’t know, i guess this is the paragraph where you realise i’m religious. but all you religion haters can put your worries aside. no preaching here. just noting that, in the story of ruth, when naomi offers to find rest for ruth, she is talking about finding her a new husband. i just ran across this recently, and it definitely set me to pondering. you could say that the rest is from the worry that a woman then must have felt at being single and not taken care of. some of you might take a less historical perspective and just see it as a rest from the loneliness. those of you who have been in long-term relationships that you knew were going to last know there is a sort of rest that comes when you have someone that you know is going to stick around and love you and try to work through things with you. a change, in all these case, from the worries and loneliness, from the sort of work that life requires when single (even if you admit that being married is just a different kind of work).

so, in writing this out, and thinking, i have a thought. rest isn’t a state of nothingness. it’s a change. it lets us, even for a moment, step out of whatever it is that is taking our energy (good and bad things). and, by taking that step outside, we gain the energy, perspective, or will to move ahead when we step back in. we think of rest as an inactive state, but i think it’s an active state. and i think we can’t achieve true rest just by doing the same nothing all the time. i know people who have sat around for days just watching tv. nothing else. at first, sure, it was relaxing. it was rest. but then it ceases to have the helpful effect. it was time to switch up activities. to find rest by giving tv a rest, if you will. i have known people who were getting plenty of sleep, but the worries in their lives left them feeling exhausted. i’ve been there. in that case, sleep isn’t the only rest needed, though you’d still hear me say “why am i so tired? i got plenty of sleep.”

i have spent all day working hard on music, and it is work, and felt rested, whereas a few hours of “day job” can leave me wiped out.

right now, i’m looking for rest. looking for the change that lets me keep pushing forward. looking for the rest that lets me step into new problems, and out of old. i’ve been trying to find it with sleep and meditation, with quiet. i’ve been invoking the phrase my friend susan gave me, that i’m not doing nothing; i’m being still. and that has, in some ways, lifted some of the trouble. it’s given me small pieces of rest. but i can see that the rest i want and need now is a more active state.

so, i’m going to get back to seeing if there’s anything more i can do toward achieving that active state, that change. and maybe you can step aside from the rest of sitting here reading me and out into a more useful rest. heh.

(note to self: stop ending on “heh.” that is not your catchphrase.)