what is rest? what is sloth?

You have no idea how much time I now spend within my own blog trying not to repeat myself. It would be easier if I ordered myself differently, or if I was less paranoid about having only five thoughts (thanks, Scott Cairns!), because then I could quickly retrieve what I was pretty sure I’d already written… and move on. As it is, I end up running synonym-laden searches, re-reading posts just to see if this is the one that makes the reference I want to explore… or repeat….

Said differently: I can’t believe I haven’t written about this, because I think about this ALL THE TIME. But if I have, I’m not finding it.

Here’s the thing. I come from a fairly long line of Calvinist-biased households. Eating your mushy veggies before you qualify for dessert is embedded in my DNA. The whole delayed-gratification thing? On it.

And then I did time in the mental hospital. Found out that a certain amount of gratification is, oddly enough, critical for human functioning. All work and no play doesn’t just make Jill a dull girl—in some circumstances it will make her unable to work, either. (If not unable-to-work-because-dead, then tucked up in fetal position in a corner. I’ve tried both.)

All right, good,
rest/relaxation is Important. A must-do, which makes it one those things beloved by all Calvinists.

But how much rest is enough rest? When does resting slip over the infinity-pool’s edge and fall down into sloth?

Don’t try to tell me that I’m worrying about this needlessly. I have met my sloth, and it is Facebook refreshes all day long. (I really have done that, too.)

And then on still another hand—yes, hush up, I’m going for at least insect status—I have had weeks where I could tell I was teetering on the edge of depressed-ness, where it was work to head across the house for breakfast. I would eat, climb back into bed, and read novels (rinse repeat),

until the day when I woke up feeling exactly like my “let’s get something done!” self. At which point I would bop right into Getting Things Done.

So I’ve experienced needful long rests with straightforward recoveries. “Believe in it? Hell, I’ve seen it done.

Yet, yet, yet that second hand! The hand of sticky rest. Wouldn’t you think there’d be a way to nip that unproductiveness in the bud? Because restful rest is productive; it generates something needful. Sloth-y rest, not at all.

Oh, look. There’s the fourth hand: why does everything have to be productive, o descendant of Calvinists? Couldn’t un-productivity be an acceptable thing in and of itself? (Or even good, but we’ll take baby steps here.)

But then there’s the inactivity of illness, the stuckness that depression engenders. Where the only way out is through, to drag oneself up and at ’em as-if until the day when the gears of body and mind mesh properly again and Getting Things Done is again on the agenda.

Which is which? When is rest right, too much, not enough, wrong, beside the point?


Yesterday I wasn’t here because I ended up lassitudinous after my leg muscles got thoroughly ironed out. My Sweetie kissed me at 7pm and said, “You look really sleepy,” and I said, “Yep. I’m climbing into bed.” Slept nearly ten hours, too.

Which would be productive rest, and slip under the Calvinist bar, though I nevertheless regretted not-writing (and/or not-doing other tasks). Because how was I to know, as I was fading away like a distant radio signal, that it was legit? That it would be better not to power through?


Term starts in two weeks. I’m picking up at least three classes this time around.

I don’t have my answer.
But then, I’ve been asking myself these questions for twenty-five years. Why would today suddenly show forth the solution?


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