Rest, sort of a vital thing in life. To sleep, nap, take moments out of the day to breathe deeply or pray.
I’ve never been good at resting. As a small child, I stopped taking naps early so that I would sleep through the night. It wasn’t until adulthood before I was any good at going to bed. I always wanted to stay up longer, squeeze just another hour out of my day to enjoy the night. As bedtime approached, I was often struck by the urge to make something or ten things before I called it a day.
I think it is easy to mistake solitude or non-productive moments as rest…scrolling endlessly online through things that so often are trying to make you angry or trying to sell you something.
It seems like the ever-present distractions only grow in their demands. Perhaps that’s part of aging, or perhaps that’s part of living in the internet age.
There are whole industries devoted to attracting and keeping your attention—including newspapers. Social media, advertisers, television, movies, books, these are all things that would like a piece of your focus. What is the saying? If the service is free, you are the product? In the internet age when so much of the online world is free to access, the cost is often your attention (so that advertisers can sell you something) or your data (so that advertisers can sell you something).
To be clear, I have no problem with advertising. Advertising is how the Chieftain keeps the doors open and the lights on, and I’d like to see our little weekly keep covering local news for the next century. That means helping local and regional advertisers connect with our local readers. (Have you met our excellent sales representative Stephanie McFadden? If you want to reach a local audience, you should give her a call.)
My point is, it’s easy to think of time spent scrolling Twitter or watching YouTube as time spent resting. I’m not so sure it is.
Apparently being bored is critical to creativity. Repetitive tasks or idle moments can give you space to think in novel ways. Weeding the yard or washing the dishes could be the pathway to your next great idea.
Rest is not about production or labor or work. But it can be generative. The brain flips and flips and flips ideas when you’re bored and finds new versions of thoughts.
I am trying to rest better, but it is strangely difficult. Rest is something that takes practice and boundary setting. Putting the phone away between this hour and this hour. Ignoring chores and declining to work to take time for a meandering hike through Box Canyon.
I really love my work. It’s gratifying to do a job and to do it well. There is a deep satisfaction in making something that didn’t exist before, the newspaper versions of that being writing stories, taking photos and placing elements on a newspaper page. And newspapers are a wonderfully collaborative project. You need people to answer questions, people to ask the questions, to write, to photograph, to design, to edit, to copyedit, to place ads and create classifieds, to sell and buy ads in the first place, and of course to print the thing. Not to mention all those accounting and HR tasks that are part of any business.
The act of creation is such a human urge. I think any time you make something, that’s time well spent.
I found it surprisingly moving to cover the Fiber Arts show at this year’s Socorro County Fair, because the women I interviewed spoke about the fulfillment they find in making and the long tradition of fiber arts. For centuries people have been quilting and weaving—using those crafts not only to create something practical, but to create something beautiful that can tell a story. If you want to get pulled into an internet rabbit hole, Google the history of story quilts.
You won’t see my byline much in next week’s paper. That’s because I took a week of rest. I’m hoping I’ll come back with lots of vim and vigor, some energy created by my intentional pause. As we’re almost at the weekend, I hope you take some time to rest. To nap, or dance or contemplate the stars.