I don’t know how to rest.
It might be more accurate to say I don’t how to rest effectively, but even that feels like the wrong idea.
How do you rest “effectively”? Isn’t attaching an expectation like “effective” to it antithetical to the very idea of “rest”?
If you can’t tell, this is something I ask myself a lot. Especially these days when moments to myself rarely come back-to-back, and I already have so much to decompress from that it feels like if I don’t take full advantage of it I’m missing an opportunity.
Sometimes life feels like a muscle you just can’t unclench. It shouldn’t be this hard, I tell myself. How hard is it to go limp, after all? And yet I struggle.
Everyone has their go-to’s, right? A good book, a long bath, walking, running, sleeping, a group of friends, that one person. The thing that always puts them at peace. But how do you pick? When you only have a moment, an hour, how do you pick the right thing to rest to?
And that, I’m quite positive, is really the wrong idea.
I don’t know where I got this idea that rest had to be effective, that I had to get it right or it wouldn’t work. Truthfully, I know where I got that idea; I just don’t know how I got it attached to something like relaxation. When you say it out loud, it’s ridiculous.
Rest is rest. Rest is setting aside things like worry and questions like “am I doing this right?”
Self-care has become the name of the game these days, and I’m all for it. It’s good to remind ourselves that we have a responsibility to ourselves, to stay mindful of all this so we don’t fall into the trap of hustle. But even that can carry expectation if we’re not careful. When we call it a responsibility, we can turn it into a performance, and then it stops being what it’s supposed to be and instead becomes just another thing to obsess over.
Expectation may not be the enemy of rest, but it sure as hell will make it harder.
I don’t know what rest is supposed to look like for me. There are days I really set out to do it and end up just as wound up as I was when I started. Then there are days when it finds me as if by accident. When I step out of the shower and realize for a second that I’m not really feeling bad at the moment. Not happy-jumping-around good, but not bad, and that feels good. That’s a start.
Maybe rest is simply the choice to let these moments find us. I think we can look. We can draw the bath, open the book, call the person, but the first step is always going to be setting aside that expectation, and that fear, because fear is always behind it, that it has to be one way or the other.
Maybe that’s all rest is: letting go of expectation. That, naturally, is going to look different for everyone at every moment. That’s mindfulness, after all, being mindful of the present, not what we would like it to be, but what it is, who we are. Right now.
For me, today, I think it’s simply letting myself stop this blog at 600 words. Because I could go on, I feel like I should, but I won’t.
I’ll let it rest, as it is, instead.