To rest is to waste, and other lies

Written by hootenannie on August 19th, 2012

Sophomore year of high school, my algebra class was the last period of the day.  Every Friday, in the last two minutes before the bell would ring, the teacher would stand up in front of his squirrelly students and give the same speech: “I know you’re anxious for the weekend.  You’re thinking about all of the fun you’re going to have, all of the time with your friends, how you don’t have to come to school for two whole days.  But listen: the minute you walk out that door, the clock starts.  The instant that the bell rings, time starts ticking away, getting smaller and smaller and smaller.  Right now – this moment – is the very best part of your weekend, because it’s all still ahead of you.  But,” he would famously finish, “IT’S ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE.”

Cue the bell ringing, and me sprinting out into the weekend, hell-bent on not losing a single second.

Who knows how formative my high school math teacher’s speech was in my current life.  All I know is that I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve, to succeed, to do more and do it well.  I find it next to impossible to sit still, and it’s hard for me to separate “time rested” from “time wasted.”  Add it to the list of reasons why “Annie needs therapy”: in my mind, nothing-doing is synonymous with failure.

This belief system keeps me moving at a frantic pace.  My busy, busy job takes up the vast majority of my brain space, and whatever is left is instantly snatched up by family, friends, exercise, and commitments.  If I have a free day, I fill it up – if I have a free HOUR, I fill it up.  If “vacation” is defined as “a scheduled period in which activity is suspended,” then I have never taken a vacation.  Ever.

Years of a rapid, anxiety-driven lifestyle are catching up with me.  These days, I am so tired.  I find it hard to breathe, and even harder to think.  Stress has reached an astronomical level.  My shoulders are tight and knotted.  I’m starting to believe that the biblical concept of a Sabbath isn’t such a dumb idea after all.

So it’s after 9 on Sunday morning, and I’m still in bed.  I skipped my original plan of getting up at 3:30am to climb two more mountains in favor of a day of nothing-doing.  I can’t remember a day in which I had zero plans – and even though I’m tempted, I’m choosing to not feel guilty about allowing my heart and my brain and my body to rest today.

It’s all downhill from here.  But maybe that means I can sit back, close my eyes, and just coast – if only for a day.

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