When I was avidly cycling, my friends and I used to participate in double centuries. 200 miles in one stretch, filled with laughter, camaraderie, lots of food, some pain, and endurance. By the time I was riding the doubles, I’d built up strength and speed. Not Lance Armstrong speed by any stretch, but enough to hold my own. Around mile 150 of the Davis Double, on a hot – I mean, cook an egg on the pavement hot – day, we came upon a fellow cyclist. The community of cyclists participating in these rides is not immense, so it was someone we’d ridden with many times.
By my recollection, he was just over 80 years old and truckin’ along, but starting to fade. My friend decided to ride in with him and our group agreed to hang back with her. But it meant slowing way down. And it was hard! I wouldn’t have thought slowing down would have been harder than keeping up a quick pace, but to my amazement, it was. In the end, we all rode in together. I’d realized a fact that has proven true in many areas of life.
Slowing down can be trickier than keeping up the mad pace we set for ourselves. I come from a family that never slows down. Constant activity fills the day. I’m not around them all the time anymore and have slipped into a slower pace of life, but my default is to action. And while action mode gets stuff done, it lacks time for restoration.
Going into this weekend, I had grand plans to relax, to treat myself…birthday present to me. I thought about going on an adventure, wandering in and out of unique shops somewhere I hadn’t been before. Literally up until Saturday morning, that was the plan. What did I do instead? Painted my front door… and I threw repainting a cabinet for good measure… and my nails, I mean, I’m not a savage. But I was busy all.day.long. While it resulted in a sense of satisfaction (presuming my door didn’t stick to the frame overnight…pray for me) I was tired. And maybe a little light-headed from breathing paint fumes all day long.
I’d replaced rest with action when what I really needed was the restoration my front door was treated to.
I’ve talked to friends about the internal battle, rest vs. staying in motion, and we share the struggle. Although there’s a trend toward self-care, the inclination is to measure ourselves against the results we achieve. Every single one of us needs rest. And taking that time doesn’t mean we’re lazy. Our internal monologue might tell us we’re being sloths but that’s not the truth.
The challenge is grant ourselves permission to rest. To avoid filling our day with activity. If you think back to ancient times, there’s a good reason crops were given a year of rest every seven, and people were instructed to have a day of rest each week. They knew what we’ve forgotten. We need time to slow down and feel the feelings, soak in the silence, and restore our bodies and minds.
Could you, just for today, choose rest over activity? If we stop, the world will go on, and we’ll be better off for it. Tomorrow will come and chances are, we’ll jump back in. But today, rest. You need it my friends. It’s part of the journey we’re taking together. Be brave.