Over the course of the past week I’ve seen the word rest come up several times and each time, in my head, I’m yelling “YES!” I wanted to keep track of this, so I’m writing down these references with some thoughts here.

The first reference was in a post by Mandy on a book she finished reading, Laziness Does Not Exist, where she doesn’t use the word, but it’s implied by the fact that laziness isn’t a thing we should ever talk about again. I’m now tracking down this book to read it for myself.

…[T]hat your worth is your productivity, that you cannot trust your own feelings and limits, and that there is always more you should be doing.

Then yesterday, as I took down Christmas decorations I listened to Krista Tippet interview Katherine May, the author of Wintering: The Power of Rest in Difficult Times. Several things May said in the interview hit me like a ton of bricks, here’s two.

And to see rest and the need for rest as shameful, like rest is something that you only ever get forced into or that it has to be commodified, somehow, too — that rest can only be something that you’ve paid to do: a fancy retreat or a day at spa, or [laughs] whatever it is that you fancy doing.

And I think we’ve just got that all wrong. Rest should be part of the simple rhythm of our day and of our week and of our year, in different ways. I don’t think we know what rest even is anymore, to be honest. I think we’ve lost track of that.

And May goes on to talk about what it took for her to rest, getting a doctor to say she needed to do it, but as she says:

We’ve divorced ourselves from our gut instinct, actually, I think. If I felt I had the right to judge my own wellness, I’d have declared myself ill a year before that, and I would’ve taken a rest much earlier. But I didn’t feel like I had the right to decide it for myself, ultimately.

How have we gotten to a place where someone saying they need rest is shameful and that we look to our medical system, which in the US is a trash fire, to tell us when we should. I haven’t read the book yet, but again, I’m tracking it down to read in the near future.

Finally, I read this article about hobbies, which is all about how we are using hobbies to be productive much of the time, rather than what they should be, things we enjoy doing, even if we do them badly.

The message that a hobby is the best way to spend one’s free time is also a message about what you should value most in life: hard work, achievement, productivity. Those aren’t bad things, but are they really more important than relationships, contemplation, and rest?

Maybe this is all an affirmation of my own life choices, but to be clear, I can’t say how many times I hear people say that the moment they go on vacation they get sick, or that they’re now taking the thing they enjoy doing in their free time and turning it into a side hustle, or they start work after a vacation and say they are exhausted. We’re not getting enough rest and telling people you’re taking a break, of any length, is something people feel ashamed to do, or as is often the case, can’t afford to do. This has all got to change.