I am a busy person, not necessarily because I have committed to a lot or because my parents expect a lot from me, but because I make everything I am passionate about into a serious commitment and expect a lot of myself. (Started piano lessons? Practice to be accepted as a piano major at a conservatory. Enjoyed macarons on vacation in Paris? Start a macaronery from my kitchen. Did well on one AP exam? Sign up for five and study daily for each.)
I love music and baking and even studying, as well as many other things, but after weeks of straight practicing and studying without breaks, it becomes exhausting and (this has happened numerous times) I suffer the inevitable breakdown. Every time, I try to logic my way out of these slumps, telling myself that I should not be tired since I am getting a solid five and a half hours of sleep each night, that I should be a better performer because I’ve been practicing relentlessly, that I should be relaxed because studying is just reading and reading is fun. I think to myself, “Don’t sit still, Ryanne. Don’t watch another episode on Netflix or read another chapter in your novel. Don’t be lazy.”
That is the conclusion I have ultimately had to reach: N.O.P.E. Nope. No matter how hard I try, I cannot and never will be able to logic my way around the human need for rest. As much as I would like to imagine that I am a superhuman whose brainpower can overcome her body’s fatigue, I am not. Rest is vital and that is something that I wish I had come to terms with earlier. And, more importantly to a perfectionist such as myself, resting is NOT the same thing as being lazy.
“Laziness” is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the quality of being unwilling to work or use energy.” It is a choice and, unless found in one of the world’s most adorable animals (in my opinion), the sloth, it is not generally considered an admirable quality. In fact, (sorry, sloths), throughout literature, laziness is presented as among sins. Take the classic tale of “The Little Red Hen”, for example. The only antagonizing force in the story is the laziness of the animals who were unwilling to help. And, for a stronger example, the Bible goes so far as to declare in Proverbs 18:9 that “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.” Based on this definition, I am justified in trying to avoid laziness.
In contrast, “rest” is defined as “a ceasing of work in order to relax, refresh oneself, and recover strength.” Wow. I never realized just how unrelated laziness and rest truly are. Rest is not the result of a lack of the will to work, but of having worked and needing to “recover strength.” Rest is always portrayed as deserved, peaceful, and necessary. To continue using the Bible for examples, the Sabbath was a day set aside specifically for rest (“six days you shall labor” -Exodus 20:9), Jesus promised rest to those who follow Him to the end (“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28), and, perhaps most significantly of all, God Himself is described as resting for a full day after the creation of the world (“God had finished the work…so on the seventh day He rested” -Genesis 2:2). Rest is garnered after hard work and it is necessary and, most of all, it is good.
Rest is good. I only wish that I had learned this sooner. In the constant race for accomplishing more and working harder, it is easy to scorn rest as laziness. However, it is vital that I and others like me who often forget the importance of rest, learn that it is alright, even good, to sometimes watch another episode on Netflix, read another chapter, eat another cookie, meet another friend, or hit the snooze one more time because without this rest, we will find ourselves unable to return full-strength to the work about which we are passionate.
Before I click “publish”, I would like to add something that a friend of my mother’s once said that really impacted me: “Life is like music; without rests, it would not be as musical or as meaningful.”