Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Therapy of Doing

This wasn't the blog post I was toying with writing, but it's on my mind NOW, and I have time NOW, and so I am going with it! (Two blog posts in as many days. Try to maintain your seat.)

I'm a natural homebody--I've never been the sort who liked to go "out," whatever that entailed: in high school, the mall; in college, the clubs; in my twenties, the bars. I enjoy spending time with people, but I prefer small groups to large, and the standard bar scene brings out the old lady in me ("Why is the music so loud?!" "Could that woman's skit be any shorter?! JEEPERS CREEPERS!").

And now that I live alone again, I spend a good deal of time on my couch, reading or watching movies (or blogging, ha ha). I It's just the sort of person I am: snuggled up with a book and a beverage and a candle (a fire would be preferred, but without a fireplace, my landlord might object to that part) are my ideal evening, weeknight or weekend. I love to entertain, but if we're talking day-in, day-out behavior, that's me.

But I was noticing in the last several days that I sometimes mistake that preternatural leaning for idleness. I get this expectation that I have free time, therefore I should bask in it and do nothing. And while there is an absolute need for rest, I think there's a reason for the biblical (and, at one time, cultural) concept of one day of rest for every six of work. Because excess rest is addictive, and potentially as problematic as too little.

I've been noticing this because, coming out of the Christmas season, I have had, perhaps, a glut of rest. I just had a week of vacation in late November, and so was not necessarily desperate for time off again so soon, but I had a four-day weekend last week and a three-day weekend this week, and meanwhile a few of my normal responsibilities have been back-burnered during the holidays, so I've had extra time after work, too. But I got sick of sitting around, and sick quickly. I started feeling like a Neanderthal, slugging around, knuckles dragging the carpet. So I started doing stuff, mostly out of boredom--and then noticed that the more I did--whether it was cleaning and making meals for the week, or working on my brother and sister-in-law's long-overdue Christmas present, or hanging the photos on the wall (3 months after moving--that's a record by a long shot)--the better I felt.

I hope this isn't inspiring you to throw things at your computer--I promise, in a couple weeks I'll be manic again, as usual, and then I won't recognize this over-rested version of myself as human, either--but stick with me for a minute. I don't think we're wired for nothing. As much as we're told that absolute bliss is sitting on a beach somewhere far away from obligations and responsibilities, I don't think we would do well in that environment for long. A little rest, a little vacation, a little downtime? Absolutely. But a lifestyle of it? I think we were wired for something better than that, something more connected and messy and disorganized. Humanity comes to mind.

For most of this weekend, I could have sat on my couch and watched The Two Towers and all the making-of featurettes that come with it. And I probably would have felt like death warmed over afterwards, like a slugging Neanderthal. But instead, I got out: I volunteered my time, I spent time talking with friends who needed an outlet, I got things done around the house, I walked all over my town to and from errands. And now I'm tired and achy and want to curl up in a ball, but I feel good.

Don't mistake this for How Awesome Am I talk--I'm just saying, 7 days of rest and I've figured something out. I'm sure I'll need to figure it all out again in a month or two, but for now, I'm feeling very pleased with myself and with what God's shown me about how he made me today.

That's it.

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