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The importance of rest

Today was grocery shopping. A chore I disliked long before it was made more surreal and stressful from behind a mask, careful-to-keep-our distance interactions with strangers. But for you little one, it’s a highlight of your week. With schools closed, playdates embargoed, it’s a rare opportunity for you to experience the world of people outside of our home.

You’re small enough to sit in the seat at the front of the trolley, big enough for your loud advice on what and how much to buy ( “No mommy we need MORE apples!” “Go back a bit… We need some of THOSE”) to be understood by passing shoppers, smiles visible even behind the masks.

On the way home I take the meandering road by the lake, still beautiful in the overcast sky and you become quiet and fall asleep. I carry you inside and lay you on the sofa. Then, something in your soft relaxed state reminding me of afternoon naps together when you were a baby, I lie down too, and allow myself to rest.

A strange idea, that we need permission to rest our bones, to listen to the weariness of our bodies?

Because rest is not prized, not noticed, (mostly) not commodified. Rest is not doing, not achieving, not moving forward in a world where forward movement is king. Easier to keep doing, keep going than to stop and listen to the rustlings of the mind.

An algorithm suggests an article which tells me that there are seven types of rest (physical, mental, sensory, creative, emotional, social and spiritual in case you were wondering). I read the article and though I am doing well on social rest (thanks pandemic) but I wonder how I can ever achieve mental and sensory rest when algorithms ceaselessly suggest articles I should read.

Rest, sweet rest, that I often forget to value until exhaustion meets incapacity. Incapacity to listen, to be kind, patient, love.

Today though, I rested (also resisted the urge to do the ‘things’, to read the ‘important’). I closed my eyes, and gave my weight over, gave up ideas of early afternoon productivity.

I didn't sleep, but instead I heard a familiar sound. The rumbling of a dissatisfaction and a pressure at the front of my skull; familiar signs of the darker mood that precedes my monthly period and casts gloom over even the most beloved in my life. In those days, my house is not pretty enough, my husband not understanding enough, my life, compared too much and found lacking.

I did not sleep, but I rested enough to see these things. Rested just enough to stop the autopilot before it kicked in. Breathed just slow and deep enough to divert the flow of thoughts to calmer waters. Just enough rest, for now.

What kind of rest are you most in need of right now?

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