For the first time in the history of planet Earth, the entire human activity came to a standstill due to Covid-19 pandemic. The offices, factories, airlines, trains, cars, schools, colleges and travel stopped completely. As people were scurrying around for Oxygen cylinders, our planet too seemed to get a breather. Within no time during this global lockdown, flowers sprouted where there were no flowers, air became cleaner, the rare species of birds and animals came out, and in fact dolphins were spotted close to Mumbai. The whole of wild life and marine life got a new lease of life during this lockdown. This is what a little bit of rest did for the whole of planet.
However we are obsessed with productivity counting seconds looking for benefits and incentives in each of our actions. In this we have forgotten the importance of rest, leisure or lazing around doing nothing. We need time for ourselves to stare at the sky, trees, and clouds or to read poetry, listen to music, and enjoy a glass of wine. This art of doing nothing or resting is the key to improving productivity.
This concept of productivity started with industrial revolution in factories when mass production of various products started. From then on humans were conditioned not to waste time, not to sit idle, and in fact our parents too taught us to do something valuable with time and not sit around reading or staring at the sky. This is so ingrained in us that doing nothing makes us feel guilty as if we should have done something productive or even some random, senseless activity to prove our worth. There’s no sense in being busy to be busy. You are a form of human life not a machine.
Today anxiety and restlessness has taken over a large part of society. In fact we keep ourselves busy scrolling through various apps. It’s difficult for people to sit idle and enjoy a cool breeze, watch the ocean waves, or a sun set and do nothing. The Covid -19 pandemic had numerous suicides by teenagers, and social media stars who suddenly found they had nothing to do and couldn’t cope up with this nothingness.
In fact rest is the key part of training for sports persons. After all you can’t keep training the body for ever or the muscles, the tissues, the joints might break apart. Appropriate rest rejuvenates those sore muscles and gives energy to get back on the track and push their bodies beyond the limit. Be it Roger Federer, Kobe Bryant, Usain Bolt and top athletes of the world, they all swear by rest.
Similarly with the mind, we need to give it rest and let it rejuvenate and not cram it with unnecessary activities. Only a restful mind can be peaceful and creative.
All our activities are aimed to strengthen our brain or our body. However, the soul or the spirit that lies inside us is rejuvenated by beauty – like watching a beautiful flower, a beautiful sun rise or sun set, reading a piece of poetry, or a story, playing with children or just lying in the grass, staring at the vast sky, the stars and the moon or just listening to the lashing of ocean waves. It’s like meditation. None of these activities come with incentives but they provide a solace, a fulfilment, joy and bliss that our soul craves for.
It’s the biggest paradox of life that the things you don’t need to live – books, art, cinema, wine, beauty, and so on – are the things you need to live. Without this, life would be so dry. And the beauty of any art or nature comes to you when you give it full attention and that happens only while you are resting.
You don’t always have to be busy and doing something or to achieve something. You don’t always have to spend your free time productively. You don’t always have to be learning something or watching speeches or motivational videos. Sometimes you can just be and feel things – go out in the rain, feel the fresh air, stare at clouds and sky or even fly on the window and simply do nothing. You don’t always have to get validation of your actions.
You don’t always have to justify your value by working hard and slogging or by proving your worth by showing off skills. You are worth yourself and that’s enough. This is your life and let no one dictate it to you. Obey your head. Obey your heart. Obey your gut. In fact, obey everything except commands.
Sometimes we are lost in our talents and skills and develop a massive ego. Well, you are not the only species on Earth with talent and technology. Look at ants. Look. What they do with twigs and leaves is quite amazing. Or the bees, the birds, and you’ll be put to shame with their work.
Just as we need pauses between notes for music to sound good, and just as we need punctuation in a sentence to make it coherent, we should see rest and reflection as an intrinsic and essential part of life that’s needed for the whole to make sense.
Remember, it’s not the length of life that matters. It’s the depth.
Do you know as a black hole forms it creates an immense gamma-ray burst, blinding whole galaxies with light and destroying millions of worlds. You could disappear at any second. Make sure, you are doing something you’d be happy to die doing not some senseless activity.
No one will understand you. It is not, ultimately, that important. What is important is that you understand you.
In your mind, change the name of every day to Saturday. And change the name of work to play.
It’s good to be productive but make sure to rest, reflect and rejuvenate. After all even an ant is productive but it doesn’t have the consciousness of this world or any concept of beauty. However, humans have awareness, consciousness, and an understanding of the world, the cosmos, and its beauty. But it’s only in a restful state that you soak in the beauty and allow joy, love, and bliss to fill your life.