Hardly a waste

Visitors wisely invest some time in resting under the cherry blossoms, Washington DC, April 2013

Visitors wisely invest time resting under the cherry blossoms, Washington DC, April 2013

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.”Sir John Lubbock

Rest is not optional; it’s necessary to health and sanity, but it seems we are in danger of forgetting that.  Even our time off is compulsively scheduled with activities.

Nor does rest always consist of sleep, although we tend to think of it as such.  “Get some rest,” we say to people in the evening, and in the morning we ask “did you rest well?”  But how often have you heard anyone say “I’m headed to the park for some rest” or “I’ll be in the garden resting.”

People do collapse in exhaustion in front of the television and refer to that as “rest,” but a number of studies show that electronic stimulation is not restful, and commercial messages intrude with unwanted content, increasingly embedded into the actual productions to circumvent viewers’ attempts to delete or fast forward through them.

The advent of ever-present mobile devices only complicates the picture.  When I was looking through my photos, I came across a lovely shot of a woman with her dog, sitting in the grass near the water’s edge.  The dog looked sublimely happy and relaxed, but the woman’s gaze was glued to a smart phone.  Was she resting?  Probably not at that moment, though hopefully she tuned out for at least a few minutes, long enough to enjoy the beautiful setting.

Like most people, I feel guilty when I sit around “doing nothing,” even if I’m reading, making mental to-do lists or planning a meal.  We are so programmed to think that staying busy is our responsibility, and we often confuse physical activity with accomplishment.  While a healthy amount of activity is necessary and desirable, maybe we tend to overdo it.

With absolutely no vested authority, I hereby grant you permission to spend a few minutes today doing nothing but relaxing and taking in beauty.  It can be time spent enjoying nature, music, art, or a playful baby or animal.  What it can’t be is a task, an obligation, television, busy work or sleep.

If you find it hard to unplug from your responsibilities long enough to give your mind and body a brief time of rest, it’s a pretty good sign this goal should go to the top of your “MUST do NOW!” list.  Good luck – and “get some rest!” 😀

One year ago today:

Solace, inspiration, adventure



  1. singleseatfighterpilot

    Once before on this site I quoted a few words from Alabama’s “I’m in a Hurry”. Today, I date myself with a song from the sixties. It is called “Time for Livin'”, by The Association:
    I took off my shoes, and felt the good earth under my feet
    I loosened my tie, and felt what it feels like to breath
    I found the secret to life
    I took some time for livin’
    The song goes on, but you get the drift. Sometimes rest only comes when restraints are removed and you can truly say “I don’t care if I go to sleep, or not.”

    • Eric, I like that song so much I discussed it in this post, with a link to a place where you can listen to the whole thing. You are right that part of the trick is not getting uptight about it. (OK, so I’m back in a 60’s linguistic mode now!) One of the most frequently cited strategies for overcoming insomnia is to find ways to use the time awake rather than lying there fretting about it, which only exacerbates the problem. Now when I wake up at 4:00 am or later, and find myself unable to go back to sleep, I try to see it as a gift of extra time for that day, and I do find it helps to simply get up and enjoy the beauty of the dawn rather than toss and turn and feel sorry for myself.

  2. OK boss, will do :o)…However you are absolutely right, rest, true rest is imperative to healthy living. Have a restful weekend.

    • Good girl, Patricia! 😀 Seriously, I am really enjoying my visit in Italy with your family. I read just a few pages each night and it ends my day with a smile and an interesting mini-escape– not to mention some delicious fresh Italian bread!! with ZERO calories in virtual format!! BTW I don’t think you were at all odd to photograph the family’s mausoleums and markers. I sometimes photograph grave sites of total strangers, so compared to me you are quite normal (which admittedly isn’t saying much). I too am terrified to drive along cliff roads, so that’s the part of the story when I’m glad to be at home and not in Europe! 😀 I can’t see the photos very well on my Kindle Paperwhite, so I have to view those on the Kindle app on my computer.

  3. Sheila

    Julia, I bet you’ll agree that’s why rocking chairs are placed on front porches. “Sit down. Rest a spell.” I grew up on those southern phrases! 🙂 Weekend rest, my friend!

    • Thank you Sheila! If I had a porch big enough for a rocking chair I’d be sitting there now, having an imaginary chat with you as Walter and Jack look on. Happy weekend! BTW is this month’s calendar photo not GORGEOUS!!!!

      • Sheila

        Oh, I’ll lift a glass of sweet tea to that view from the porch. I’m so glad we share our calendar and our days here and a special friendship. “Hi” to your fellas. 🙂

        • Sheila, I’m glad too! Tonight I’m lifting my mug of Celestial Seasons Tangerine Zinger to you! (Sweet tea tomorrow when I need to stay awake!)

  4. Working on this…hubby recently added a room that’s dedicated to reading, writing, and napping!!

    • Wow, that sounds dreamy Denise! The only dilemma would be choosing which to do, since one often leads to the others (for me, anyway).

  5. raynard

    julia i’ve been up since 3am getting ready for work. Made it home by 12:30pm decorated that cake, then off to the church potluck.Got done, took wife, neighbor and dogs to the river ” for a spell and now relaxing on computer and watch 1949 version of Superman and Batman& Robin on my tablet. How that for relaxing / lol be blessed

    • Raynard it sounds like a full and mostly fun day (3 a.m. to work not quite my idea of a party), but you definitely deserve some down time now. Holy multi-tasking, Batman! Get that man some iced tea! Decaf of course, since it’s so late. Hope you have a lovely Sunday tomorrow.

  6. Julia, hello.
    I’m guilty of not just resting, I must be reading or working on a cross word puzzle. Or as now reading my email on my phone. It’s my bedtime, so no computer.

    • Merry, I think doing fun, stress-free things such as you mention can be restful, although probably not as much as just daydreaming or nodding off. I tend to want to be busy all the time too. I am compulsive about carrying some sort of reading material with me almost everywhere I go. For me, it takes a lot of the frustration out of unexpected waiting time.

      • yes, for me too. Book bag now filled with smartphone, kindle or computer. 🙂

        • Oh how I can identify with that! Except for the smartphone. I’m still a holdout on that.

  7. Susan

    Dear Julia, I took your advice yesterday and lingered at the beach yesterday with a good book, instead of just viewing the sand sculptures and then rushing off to the next item on my list. The book was so engaging (Till we have Faces) that my back got sunburned. I rolled onto my back … And soon fell asleep! Luckily I rarely sleep on my back, so I immediately started snoring, which woke me up, or I could have been sunburned on both sides! (By the way, don’t trust in 55 sunscreen, because when you miss a spot, it’s completely unprotected, and you have very little warning of that! )
    But what I want to say is Thanks! I feel much happier today than I did yesterday morning, and except for “resting, ” I didn’t accomplish a single thing all day!
    P.S. I recommend making sun tea with Wissotzky Nana Mint with Ginger and Lemon

    • Susan, I am so happy you had a great beach day! I once ended up with a “sunblock handprint” on my shoulder so I learned the hard way about applying it evenly. But it can be hard to do since you can’t really see where you’ve put it and where you haven’t. Don’t you LOVE snoozing in the sunshine? One of my favorite activities. I read Till We Have Faces a couple of years ago and found it interesting and somehow not at all what I was expecting. Have you read Lewis’ Perelandra series? I read the first two and loved them; I’ve been meaning to get around to the third one. I have never heard of that brand of tea but I will look it up, it sounds wonderful. You DID accomplish something if you enjoyed the day!! Thanks for letting me know about it – I had some vicarious seaside fun just reading your description.

  8. I find rest when I take the time to stop and feel. The rest comes as a compliment to my appreciation that swells as my understanding grows.

    • I think that’s true – ignoring, denying or suppressing emotions is an exhausting business. Thanks for being here, and for your comment!

  9. Thank you for the quote, which is so true. When I overdo stuff, my body responds by making me sick. Then I’m out for almost a week, something I cannot afford. Taking rest at intervals is the smarter option. Yet, I need to be reminded. I’m getting better. 🙂

    • I used to do the same thing, particularly at Christmas time. For many years I would ALWAYS be sick by Christmas or shortly thereafter. I got better about it mostly because life forced me to (aging will do that to a person past 50 or so) but also because like you, I realized I needed to work on it. Good luck, I applaud you for learning to live within limits while you are still young and strong!

  10. Susan

    Hi Julia, I have also never made it through “That Hideous Strength” but have just put it onto my “to read” list. I am running out of CS Lewis books to read! I used to read Narnia books to kids that I babysat and had practically memorized the first few pages of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”

    • Susan, I am gradually reading through the collected letters from Lewis and in some ways I like it better than anything I’ve read by him, which is saying something since he’s my favorite author. So much of his personality and character come through in his letters to his father, brother, friends, and so on. Plus this window into his life makes him even more amazing to me. I’m so happy you like him too!

  11. Michael

    In a meditation class I took they would say -“when you don’t want to meditate, that is the time you need to most.” I suppose you could say that about prayer too- that is when you really need to pray.

    • Michael, I think that’s probably true. There are so many things in life that are like that. People who need love the most are sometimes the hardest to love. Unkind people need kindness, people with the least wealth often give the most (relatively speaking) and so on. I guess life is paradoxical.

  12. Michael

    Up at 4A.M. ? Good for you. I think John Wesley made that a daily practice and part of his prayer practice. Very Wesleyan. I usually listen to music or the BBC Europe broadcast on NPR- which starts about three A.M. If I start to read I have to get up.

    • Michael, if you are referring to the posting time, that happens automatically. I can’t remember the last time I was up that early — it was probably on the day of Matt’s open heart surgery in April — but I do sometimes wake up that early and can’t get back to sleep. Today I got up when Jeff did (just after 5:00) and went out walking while it was still cool. But by the time I got home shortly after 6:00, I was so sleepy I went back to bed for awhile. Walking usually wakes me up so I figured I must be tired enough to need the extra rest. I do hope I will eventually become more of a morning person, which I’m told sometimes happens as we get older. Years ago I used to wake up every day to the Writer’s Almanac (Garrison Keillor) which came on at 6:00 a.m. every morning. It was a pleasant way to start the day.

  13. Well said! I snuggled with the cat on my bed for awhile. I highly recommend it.

    • I think someone should open a Rent-a-Kitty for people such as us whose current circumstances don’t allow properly caring for and adopting a pet right now, but could use some therapeutic snuggle time! I wonder if there is such a thing as a pet owner’s co-op or time share? 😀 Where two or three families would take turns having the pet for a week. It might be hard on the animals, but would be better than a shelter!

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