Lent words - Day 18 ~ Rest

So far behind on these words that I am going to be writing them at Christmas... anyhow... Palm Sunday has come and gone... Day 40 or so is upon us and I'm writing day 18...  today's word is REST.

We all like to rest... we all like to take a break. Even God after creating the whole world took a break from his labours and a chance to reflect on his work... And he saw that it was good too... no harm in being proud of your work!

So let's look at rest... it does mean different things to different people. 

Some think of rest as completely zoned out... just eat, drink, have fun and then sleep. Others see rest as doing something creative, painting, making something... perhaps doing something that is so different to the hustle bustle of the normal daily routine and therefore a complete contrast.

For others, and I include myself in this I want to occupy my mind with something different which is fun but is also potentially a useful asset in the future. We are here for such a precious small amount of time... I just want to get as much "life" in as possible! ... some have holidays learning sports, trekking or discovering interesting cultures in other cities. Whatever does it for you we also need to combine it with periods of rest. No right or wrong... whatever works for you.

But there is another kind of rest... this rest is 'regular' time... not 'set aside' time like a holiday. This is rest that is absolutely necessary to be able to function. We humans have a pretty flexible 'ride' in terms of this vessel we have been leased for our lives, our bodies... but they do need some care and attention.

The challenge with today's society is that everything is pretty much 24/7 availability. That puts a lot of pressure on our bodies (if we let it). Going back a few hundred years the pace of life was vastly different. You couldn't go shopping on a Sunday as the shops were shut... they all shut on the same day too which was very convenient as it meant that everyone could collectively take a break... can't do that any more!

How often do you spend on your own... thinking... processing... reflecting on all the myriad of things that have happened in the recent days or past week? I mentioned in a post sometime ago that when someone received a letter from a lover, or family member in the days before cars, it arrived by horse / foot. It might have taken two weeks to arrive... a month since the person wrote their letter and then got a reply.

How much attention would have gone into writing that letter? 

No wonder letters went on for 10 or 20 pages in those days. How much would have each word meant if the only communication would have been this letter exchange which took 4 weeks. How carefully would the meaning of the sentences been dissected to obtain the real feeling behind the message. How many questions would have been created when the clarity or choice of words left the reader a little wanting or doubtful... and yet it was another month before those questions were to be answered. We can begin to understand why those letters were kept and were so precious... the feelings, sentiments, hopes and fears contained in those flimsy pieces of paper that were probably read and re-read 100 times or more. Did people know each other better in those days with the time they spent analysing the communication in this level of detail? ... perhaps so.

Today we don't even have enough time to read a complete email message, amongst the 200 or so that drop each and every day. Often I have had a conversation with someone only to reveal that they didn't know what I was talking about because the email continued past the amount which was visible without scrolling... the remaining part of the message unseen until the phone conversation.

We flop into bed... too tired for anything but sleep... the days and weeks go by unprocessed... questions left in the brain's overstretched short term memory unresolved until either forgotten, or hurried decisions taken without due care and consideration. We humans are short on processing time... short on reflection time... short on working out whether we're on track or even enjoying life... we are suffering from the big 'Busy off'.

We are perhaps more like automatons these days. Robots just doing... without the time to question what we're doing. Too busy with our full up lives to check in with ourselves. We have no time for that... And look what we're doing with the kids. Pre-school clubs... school, after school clubs... homework... top up study lessons... bed... and do it all again tomorrow... kids haven't any downtime either... no time alone... to reflect... to be bored and work out how to create their own entertainment... it's all on a plate... thinking has been done for them... all they have to do is go along... enjoyed? yes... go again... not enjoyed? ... try something else... where is their chance to innovate for themselves? ... can we not see how we are disempowering them through our 'kindness'.

We're not Robots

We're not robots... we're not machines... and as much as we need sleep to file and clear up the desk of the day, so we're fresh and ready to go again, we also need the time to reflect on how things are going.

With a massively busy year last year I felt I was lurching from one day to the next... one week to the next... no chance to take stock... and it became overwhelming,, people can (and do, burn out like that)... 'why don't you take time to sharpen the axe young man? the onlooker enquired... you'll cut more trees that way... sorry, the young man replied, I'm far too busy cutting down trees for that'.

Part of our life is doing... but part surely must also be to rest and revisit what happened.... we could just end up with a "near life experience"... if we're not careful... all doing... no reflection... no value... no meaning. If you believe as I do that everything happens for a reason... then if things didn't go according to plan, we should be asking, what happened? What was the learning from this? What should we take from the results experienced and how could we adjust, so that next time we improve.

If we do not rest... we leave all these questions unasked let alone unanswered

Conclusion and Final words

Rest is vital, reflection is vital... the pace of 21st century living (coupled with the uncertainty and dismantling of the institutions of the past 200 years) is slowly but irreversibly edging us ever closer to a precipice. We are in danger of being automatons. Unthinking, unquestioning and tired (with the pace, complexity and changes in our lives) ... too tired to be human... heading for the cliff. The speed of the changes today are way beyond the capacity of the human-being that has taken 10's of thousands of years to evolve. Earning our keep, learning new things, eating, recreation, sleeping and reflecting... these days we can't do it all in the time we have available... something has to give.

We are going to need to be integrated with the technology to keep up... perhaps there will be those that choose to embrace technology to the max and live life at that pace, becoming part machine... where others might choose to develop themselves as humans at the other end of the spectrum... 

As long as we are aware of our choices and allow people to freely choose their own path then I'm ok with that.


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