I didn’t blog yesterday, or pick up my email. This is a rare thing for me. I did however, spend a lot of time wandering around Gloucester, and also a lot of time doing happy things with wool. That was all very pleasing. I’m starting to appreciate just how important rest is, in all manner of ways.
I have several friends who are really into fitness and activity, who talk about the importance of rest days. Now, my lifestyle often doesn’t allow that because I have no car, I am my mode of transport, and there are days when that’s a bitch. But, I’m making a point of trying not to cycle once or twice a week, and being gentler with me. Net result, less bodily pain. Time to heal makes a lot of odds. Time to recover from illness, and to let stressful things pass without being beaten up by them.
I’ve learned over the last few years that rest is essential to mental health. Time spent on quiet, gentle things that do not tax the mind and body allow me to find calm, and to keep things in perspective. If I rest, I don’t get as anxious, or as depressed (I piloted the boat all by myself for a little while yesterday and didn’t panic at all!). I sleep better if I take the time to wind down before bed. When I sleep better, I work more efficiently and don’t get as depressed – there are many cycles here.
When I try to run flat out all the time, I get ever slower and less inspired with the work. I’ve learned that the time when I’m not striving is vitally important. I consolidate stuff I’ve learned, for a start. I can then ponder and make connections. I can also daydream, play with ideas and let my mind wander. It’s often the times when I’m not trying really hard to get somewhere that result in the best ideas turning up. Creativity does not always flow to order, needs time to meander, and comes more readily when I’m not pushing like a mad thing. In undertaking to do less, I find myself able to do more and frequently better. That took a long time to get my head round. I feel like I *should* be working really hard all the time. That way lies rubbish output and burnout and misery. The time off matters.
I think part of my problem is that some people I’ve run into along the way basically assume that the creative life is a doss, an easy option, and involves never getting out of bed before lunchtime. I wanted to be taken seriously, I wanted to avoid ridicule. So the appearance of hard work became important to me. I started to believe that hours spent at the keyboard meant something. They don’t, necessarily. So I’m making a new space for myself, in which I can gaze out of the window for as long as I need to, or go for a walk, or appear to be doing very little. When I work, I work like a mad thing, because I can. I only get to do that if I pace it right, and I like the overall balance. There’s a self esteem, self respect thing here too, letting other people cause me to feel crap if I’m not working enough for their ideas about what I should be doing… and not rewarding myself with the time off and rest any person actually needs. These things make me feel less like a person and I have to get away from them or they will grind me down.
So, more ambling, and a ghost walk ahead of me, and I’m aiming to do something truly epic in the not too dim and distant. I’m not being lazy, I am brewing! And I no longer care whether others disapprove of me.