Turning Old Cliches into New Maxims:
A Change is as Good as a Rest
By Richard Eyre
Note: This column appears every two weeks .with an old clich replaced by a new maxim each time. Click here to read the full introductory column. And if you’d like to travel with Richard and Linda Eyre, visit MeridianTrips.com
Well . there is some truth in this clich and in others that are related. Variety is the spice of life. People and perspectives are renewed by change. Routine can be so tiresome that anything that breaks it can be helpful.
But as good as a rest? Interchangeable with rest? Don’t you believe it.
Rest should be more than a necessity. It can be a pleasure, a reward, even a kind of art in that some people get very good at it while most of us don’t do it very well at all.
One reason people used to be better at resting, at sleeping, at releasing the concerns and activities of the day is that there used to be times when there wasn’t anything else to do. Evenings and Sundays and other traditional times of rest were relatively free of activity, and, if we go back a generation or two, even free of media. Now we’re always linked in, able to work, able to shop, able to “spectate,” recreate, commiserate, speculate. Nothing stops, nothing closes, there is no down time. Sundays are the most consuming days of recreation; evenings are when we socialize or catch up on what needs to be done at home since we haven’t been there all day. And vacations are often so intense that we need a rest when we get home.
Several years ago I was doing some writing on traditional values and age-honored standards, such as the Ten Commandments. I became intrigued that eight of the ten are “shalt nots” – things we’re told not to do. The two that are stated positively were especially interesting to me: “Honor thy parents” (because we were writing parenting books) and “Remember the Sabbath day” (because I was concerned and thinking a lot about my own personal need for rest).
The ancient idea of “sabbatical” – the notion of taking not only every seventh day but every seventh year as a time of rest, reflection, and planning, seemed on the one hand so outdated and impractical yet on the other hand so appealing and needed.
I was also struggling at the time to find a planning or time-management system that would work for me. I had a very large, very detailed Day-Timer book where I was trying to list and prioritize every daily task, appointment, and objective. It was taking a lot of my time to plan my time, and I was getting the feeling that my big planner and all my lists were managing me rather than the other way around.
As I studied about the ancient use of the Sabbath day, I was struck by the advantages of conceptual “good and role”-oriented weekly planning over cluttered, list-oriented daily planning.
I threw away the huge planner and started spending an hour or so each Sunday just thinking about the most important things I could do during the week ahead in my three key roles of (1)husband, father, friend; (2)management consultant; and (3)thirty-five-year-old trying to take care of my own body and mind. I discovered that when I saved my Sundays for going to church and resting at home, I slipped into a calmer, slower rhythm that allowed me to see my life and its priorities more clearly.
I found that when I shifted to “What do I have to do today?” to “What do I choose to do during the week ahead for family, for work, and for self?” I felt less stress and frustration and more strength and control. I also found that during the week opportunities or channels seemed to appear to do the things I had decided on Sunday were important.
Human beings are renewable, rechargeable devices. When we run down and don’t rest, we begin to lose our light, our sight, our mind. Each person needs to find his own formula for rest, but it should not be thought of as an interruption or a drudged necessity, and certainly not as a waste of time. Rather, rest should be enjoyed, looked forward to, and planned for. For some, exercise is the best way to relax, and it brings on real rest. For others, rest is as simple as catching up on sleep. Sleep itself is different for different people. Some need a certain amount each night. Some do fine on less if they can take a nap or a rest in the afternoon or early evening. Some can catch up on weekend. The important thing is to value rest, to plan it, to relish it.
So . let’s change a few words in the old clich and turn it into a much-needed maxim.
NOTHING IS AS GOOD
(OR AS NECESSARY) AS A REAL REST.
Rested minds and bodies are able to truly re-create – to think about who they are and who they are becoming, to look backward as well as forward and think a little about where they’ve been as well as where they’re going.
A rested body renews itself and is more likely to stay free from illness, and a rested mind not only resists stress and depression, it is more receptive to intuition, to little “nudges” or impressions or possibilities and to a clearer sense of priorities.
Join me next time for a clich I first heard from a well meaning business associate.
2005 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.