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  • Writer's picturedavidauten

Rest



When exhaustion has finally found its way into our bones, our spirits worn and minds muddled by the slow, entropic toll of time itself, sometimes the very best thing to do is simply stop and rest. Eventually fatigue seeps into the nooks and crannies of our being, observable there in the lines of the face, pooling in the eyes, and in the ever so gradual slumping and sagging of the body, the natural cost of existence which all must pay and none can escape save for that release afforded by the respite of death. It takes but a moment to lift the chin and cast our glance skyward to be reminded that perhaps, all our striving and chasing and planning and building and weighing and calculating is, in the end, not worth as much as we first imagined. It is truly lovely how the beauty of a blue expanse above or starlit night can coax us out of our heads and into our hearts, even momentarily, if for nothing other than to impress upon us once more the fact that we are so small and always have been. Starstruck by the heavens, if we do not abandon this exodus from the mind to the heart too quickly, we may discover a profound invitation only to be, which is the essence of rest, simply being, and not only with feelings of calm and inner peace.


Wonderfully ornery aspects of our hidden interiority begin to surface in periods of prolonged rest. Anxiety. Doubt. Disillusionment with what has become the status quo of an overcommitment to living a single narrative that could not possibly contain the rich complexity of our lives. It is all right for these inward realities to unsettle us with their presence. All our emotions, not only the pleasant ones, have a place, not accidental but earned through the eons of evolution’s perennial process, each one part and parcel of the human experience. Anxiety need not be viewed as only an enemy, nor doubt as something simply to dismiss: they are touchstones reminding us of the fragility of everything, including our always tentative ways of framing existence, and tendency to favor life’s pleasurable experiences to the ones that disturb us. Disillusionment, too, can lead us into wide open spaces where we finally see ourselves and others afresh, though this comes at the price of some discomfort as we deconstruct a former scaffolding of identity no longer sufficient to support the new emergence burgeoning in our lives.


A true hiatus from our regular affairs, beyond brief stargazing, may feel like dipping into chaos at first, the irresponsible abandonment, or at least temporary forsaking, of our essential daily duties, including the people who count on us the most. But without rest for the body and spirit we may very well wake up one day, look in the mirror, and find ourselves taken aback by the stranger staring back at us. Exhaustion is more than the sum of its individual appearances, quietly collecting inside us, often unbeknownst to us, and then, once manifest, entirely debilitating. Healing, however, often begins with little more than openness, the original meaning of the word hiatus from Proto-Indo-European ghieh, literally, to be wide open, open to finally accepting our long overdue need for rest, open to the puzzle of our self-estrangement, and open to a thoroughgoing self-assessment of what we need now in our dilapidated state. Such openness requires nurture, time, and space in order to bear the full fruit of its inherent possibilities. Fortunately, one does not need to travel to exotic places to take a hiatus. We only need the humble willingness to pause, wherever we are, whenever we feel out of sorts, to follow the call of self-compassion beckoning from within.


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