At the risk of sounding like I am complaining, I am tired. The day has only just begun but I am dragging the floor. Yes, I got plenty of sleep. Yes, I ate a healthy breakfast. Yes, the kids got off to school without incident. My problem is that I haven’t had a single day or evening of not needing to meet someone, be somewhere, pick something up, or do a specific out-of-the-house task since October 1st. Today is November 14th and it’s only Tuesday, it’s the week of the school play, and I have a thing this weekend, so it will be November 19th before I even might have the option of not leaving the house. That’s a lot of days, especially for an introvert.
I mentioned earlier that I do not wish to complain and that is still true. I have the privilege of doing the most amazingly wonderful things in my life. I know fascinating people and I get to meet more all the time. I love pretty much every aspect of my work. I have tons of flexibility and room for creativity and innovation, dreaming and planning. I enjoy being active; it’s exciting to see my work unfold and grow. So what’s the deal?
The best I can come up with is that I feel like this bottle of homemade kombucha in the photo. I’m this close to being empty and while I can drag it out for a few more hours, the best is spent already. In short: I need a Sabbath; a rest. I have spent a lot of time talking, reading and thinking about Sabbath. It’s part of what I do. At this time on this day, when I feel the self-inflicted pressure of “it’s a work day – you should be working” (never mind the litany of activity that includes a lot of nights and weekends over the past six weeks), it’s hard to remember.
I recently read a reminder that the Jewish day begins with sunset – with rest and sleep (not work). The beginning of the day is rest. The beginning of the week is rest. Not ‘work until you drop in exhaustion,’ but a recognition that it is out of the rest of Sabbath that all the best work and activity of the week happens. First comes connection to G-d, followed by great creative work. Part of my brain wants to tell myself that this is a lazy procrastination technique, wanting to rest. Another part of me screams and begs for mercy. Am I just trying to get out of working, using rest as an excuse? At this point, I don’t think so. The saddest part is that when I finally get some rest, I will look back and say to myself, “Gee, Wendi, you were really tired at that time. No wonder you dragged through all that. You didn’t do any good work, even if you were doing the motions that look like working. Next time, listen to your body and take the time off.” Do I listen? When I’m feeling good, yes I do. I think I give myself great advice. When I’m not feeling so good, the time I most need to listen – that’s the time I ignore it. Sigh.
I think it is a question of priority. I have this idea that I always have lots of things to do (that book won’t write itself, you know!). Yet, if something tragic were to happen (G-d forbid), everything would rearrange itself. It feels selfish to take time to care for myself if there isn’t some excuse to do so – like some personal tragedy or illness (which is less about taking care of me and more about keeping the germs from infecting others).
What does it take to turn this kind of thinking around? It reminds me of the book of Proverbs, with its opposite sets of advice. Some people play well and need to have a fire lit under them to get to work. Some people work well and need to be reminded to enjoy life outside of work. No one adage or rule goes for everyone at every time in every situation. That’s the tricky part. It becomes an issue of discernment. How do I know, when its time to choose, which to do: push through the challenge of work or take the time to rest and refresh? They can feel so similar. Logic and rigid structure seem too harsh. There appears to be no standard to be applied. Enter the life of prayer and meditation: the time to listen and be and listen some more.
That’s not much of an answer, seems like, but then I’ve always liked questions better than answers anyway.