The language of illumination and memory
It's Offline Week here at Bumblehill

In praise of rest

Rest 1

"I always forget how important the empty days are, how important it may be sometimes not to expect to produce anything, even a few lines in a journal. A day when one has not pushed oneself to the limit seems a damaged damaging day, a sinful day. Not so! The most valuable thing one can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of a room." - May Sarton (A Journal of Solitude)

"Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected."  - George MacDonald

Rest 2

“Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” - Maya Angelou (Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now)

"In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion." - Albert Camus (The Minotaur)

Rest 3

"I said to my soul be still and wait... So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing." - T.S. Elliot

"By letting go, it all gets done."  - Lao Tzu

Rest 4Images above: Tilly living, as May Sarton advises, in the changing light of a room.


I should print this out. It's the one thing I haven't managed to learn in my almost 45 years. How to let go without feeling guilty. I try to program a day off every fortnight but I often fail.

Today is my "take it easy day" I've slept in and will mostly paint. Though as an illustrator it still qualifies as working but I only work on things that make me happy. That's the closest I get to the above.

Saturday, Sunday

What is this day of rest you speak of?
The tulip does not rest, but decays,
growing even more lovely as it sheds
the remenant edges of its bright beauty.

Leaves in the fall stumble over one another
in their haste for the ground.

Meteorites paint bright swatches
of their journey across unforgiving skies.

Even the dog on its wrinkled covers
courses endlessly through trembling dreams.

Nothing is at rest till life is done.
That the grave yawns open should be a clue:
rest is not for the tired but the dead.
Art is our reply to weariness.
Gather it to you, emulate the tulip,
shed your petals one by one by one,
and dance.

©2013 by Jane Yolen all rights reserved

Jane and Terri, thank you. I think I too will print this out and hang it above the desk. Or use it to cover the computer screen entirely.

Thank you, Terri and Jane. Wise words.

On a farm, the work never stops, of course, but we instituted a Sundays Unplugged policy in our household about a year ago (I think I got that idea from you, Terri), no computers, mobile phones, video games, etc. The boys resisted at first, but when they realised that what they were getting instead was genuine time with us, long Sunday walks, making things in the workshop with their dad, baking with me, board games or other family pursuits in the evening, they got into the swing of it and now boast about it to their friends. Best thing our family ever did. We live on a farm, for heavens sake, and they were spending Sunday afternoons behind a computer screen. Now there's a fort in the woods, a pond where they are logging the fish and frog life, rambles with the dogs, games with friends, and computer use, the rest of the week, is a carefully controlled resource. This is the childhood I wanted to create for our boys, not a childhood created by mass media.

And of course it's ironic that I'm talking about this whilst online....

I found this TED talk about the need for periods of disconnection from communication technology of interest:

Your post couldn't be more timely for me. My mom passed away a few weeks ago and I've been overwhelmed with everything and everyone that needs my attention. The quotes you've shared remind me this will be a process and giving myself permission to rest is just as important as checking things off my To-Do List. Thanks so much.
Judith Henry

Just yesterday I read an excerpt from this forthcoming book: The Art and Science of Doing Nothing, , and now here's your blog raising the issue of just doing nothing. How appropriate.

I too agree with the day of rest - but what I loved most about this post is that we get to see Tilly's progress with the BONE. One end is now missing and she looks quite tranquil.....

I love the quotes here, and agree with them, being a great believer in the necessity for down time, idle time, and rest as part of the creative process, as I am constantly telling my music students - the most driven of them anyway. (For the others it's: Practice, practice, practice!)

But I want to be shallow for a moment and swoon over this room. The lucious green walls! The instruments and books! The mix-and-match of all those William Morris fabrics! A perfect backdrop for the beauteous Tilly.

It's easy to forget that writing and art takes up leisure time from the full-time day job. When I was a student I had down time every day; now I have to schedule it into my weekends, around friends and family and creative pursuits I could lose myself in for months.

Recently I spent a couple of days on my own visiting museums and art galleries, enjoying the solitude and the spring sunshine, filling up some withered part of my brain with inspiration. I came away so tired, I felt I could sleep for a week. I did no new writing, just absorbed these new ideas and facts, aware that some time in the next few months I'll start my next novel with a better idea of what to write now I've fed my creative/unconscious mind with the material it needs to help me. It's a good feeling.

P.S. I'm drawn to the shadow of the hare on the mantelpiece, standing out more strongly than the sculpture itself in these photos. Crafty...

"shed your petals one by one by one
and dance."

This is one to say over and over and over, as in casting a charm.

"Sacred idleness..." George MacDonald is one of my childhood mentors; little did he know, but his wise and enchanting stories coincided with my many walks in our own enchanted forest in Oregon, and in how to write a new fairy tale.

Also, I love Tilly's regal place on the sofa corner, with medieval tapestry-like pillows. Queen Tilly is now receiving visitors.

And I love the line "Art is our reply to weariness." As someone with a chronic health problem, this speaks to me deeply.

Thank you for the link, Cynthia!

Truly sorry to hear of your loss, Terry. This is definitely a time to be taking good care of yourself as well as the people around you. You're in my thoughts.

From Eric Hoffer: 'The feeling of being hurried is not usually the result of living a full life and having no time. It is on the contrary born of a vague fear that we are wasting our life. When we do not do the one thing we ought to do, we have no time for anything else - we are the busiest people in the world.'

I'm prone to this, the kind of busyness that tricks you into thinking you are getting things done when actually it's a form of procrastination, of avoiding the more important work that you want and ought to be doing. Having an infant, and being the primary care-taking parent, is forcing me to confront this tendency. Time is a precious commodity and I am forced to use it more wisely...which includes paying more attention to the need for physical and mental rest...when I can get it!

A timely post for me.

Very interesting! I've just pre-ordered a copy. Thanks for the recommendation.

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