Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Take A Break

If you’re following along, you know I took a vacation last week. Not much of one. We didn’t go anywhere, and I still worked part of the week, both here and at the day job, but I took most of the week off, and did far less that would be called “work” than I usually do. It was relaxing, and it was needed. We forget far too often that we need to take a break sometimes. Leisure time isn’t actually a luxury. It’s a necessity. If you don’t take a break occasionally, you become less and less productive at whatever it is you’re doing and, in the long run, you should have taken a break because you end up not accomplishing much anyway.

There is a modern belief that you have to put your shoulder to the wheel, your nose to the grindstone, and just push, push, push in order to be anything in this world. That has its place. There are times when you do need to push yourself to your limits and do even more than you thought was your best in order to get the job done, and the job does usually have to be done. There are also times, though, when the job is done, and we tend to not be so good at recognizing those times. Do the job that is in front of you but, when the job is done, let yourself take a break. If it’s a long job that isn’t going to be done anytime soon, take breaks along the way. You’ll actually get more done that way, and you’ll appreciate the results.

I’ve needed a break for a little while now. I started this blog as a way to address my own growing issues with depression and grief. I was missing my dad something fierce, I was struggling with frustration over some directions life had gone, and I was badly in need of an outlet. Both of those causes are still true - I’m typing this out on Father’s Day, and I keep having to pause because the screen gets too blurry - but they’re much less overwhelming now than they were a year ago when we started this journey. I’m rediscovering some perspective and some patience, I’m bringing back some things that I learned after the breakdown that started the original journey, and I’m remembering that life has its own way. Sometimes I need to just sit down, shut up, and enjoy the view.

We quickly expanded, though, and this blog became about more than just my personal mental foibles. Some of the expanded subject matter has been preying on my mind lately, as the news becomes more and more toxic, and more and more people - good people, in so many cases - seem to lose their way in fear, anger, and negativity. When you want the world to be a good place, it’s hard sometimes to not run out there and fight every battle, to tilt at every windmill, to champion every cause, but you can’t do it. That way will wear you down. Pick your battles, and just plain stop occasionally. It’s necessary. Most importantly, tend your own garden, and let other people tend theirs. If we do it right, most things will take care of themselves that way. There is less to clean up if we’re all cleaning up as we go.

Heather and I visited a local Japanese Friendship Garden over the weekend. To be blunt, she thought I need a bit more than to just take a few days off. She was right. I live in the desert because the day job requires that I live here, but I’m not comfortable with it. Most days I can manage just fine. A place is a place is a place, and you can make something good out of most places with a little love and effort. I have plenty of both. When the batteries are low, though, the right or wrong environment can make so much difference. There’s a bench in this garden, under a tree near a waterfall. I sat on that bench. It could have been five minutes. It could have been five years. Everything just melted away. It was glorious, and I will not be waiting so long to do it again.

Life is about balance and perspective. Without one, we often lose the other. Try too hard to be one thing and you lose sight of the other things that are important. There is far more than one thing in any life that is important. Don’t lose your way. Don’t get so caught up in what you’re doing that you forget you have other things to do as well. Sometimes the most important thing you have waiting to do is nothing. Nothing can be a critical thing to do from time to time. Try it and see.

Take a break. Take plenty of breaks. Even that important task you’re working on will thank you when you come back with renewed energy and a refreshed sense of wellbeing. You have to take care of you or you can’t really take care of anything else, so take a break when you need one. Get some “me” time, relax a little, and live. That is the point, after all. Don’t get so busy that you forget to live.

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