Are you desperate for rest? Your creativity and work is directly related to the rest and play you allow yourself to experience.
“Rest until you feel like playing, then play until you feel like resting, period.
Never do anything else.” ~ Martha Beck
The amber lights of Paris’s Rue de Buci played across our table on the cafe terrace. It was almost 8 pm, and the street was alive with buzzing cafes and boisterous conversations enjoyed over multi-course meals and glasses of wine.
We sat beneath the heating strip hidden from view overhead, and I delighted in being cozy in early December while dining outside. Everything in Paris is designed for pleasure, living life to the fullest, I thought to myself for the umpteenth time that day.
I tore a bit of bread in half and dunked it into one of the wells of butter and garlic in my escargot tray. “I’m excited about your VIP Day tomorrow,” I said. “I’ve read over all of your Pre-Work and know we can map out the next 12 months of your lead generation strategy. There is something that is gnawing at me, though.”
I looked over at Lynn and studied her face. She was lost in thought, in a trance of studying passersby. She looked down at her linen napkin, folded it in half, and tucked it beneath the edge of her dinner plate.
A Place of Passion
I continued, “I love your ambition and desire to reach your goals. I am not so sure, though, that your drive is coming from a place of passion. It feels as if it is coming from a place of obligation and/or avoidance. Is this expansion of your business what you really want? Does it feel like play, like an adventure? Or does it feel like prison?”
Lynn kept her gaze outward toward the street and answered me, disembodied, as if she were floating over our table. “I have a fantasy,” she said. “Wanna hear it?”
I was thrilled. It seemed we were now going to get to the core of what she really wanted. “Of course!” I nearly yelled.
“I have a recurring fantasy that I’m in the hospital. In a bed. I have some kind of illness. Maybe cancer.”
My stomach turned a somersault. I sat motionless, holding my breath, quiet.
Lynn turned toward me, looked over the candle, and said, “That way, I can finally rest.”
She was desperate for rest. My brain burned with firing synapses that sought to jumpstart the problem-solving center of my mind like reviving a dead battery. “Say more about that,” I said.
Desperate for Rest
“Well, first, no one would judge me for taking time off because of my illness, you see,” Lynn said. “They’d understand I needed to rest. People would be taking care of me for once, rather than the other way around. I could just lay in bed for hours upon hours. Read, nap, or watch movies. Stare out the window. Guilt-free.”
Lynn was desperate for rest, a desire that was so extreme and felt so forbidden that she was willing to get sick to get it.
Needless to say, we scrapped the lead-generating strategic session we had planned and instead spent her VIP Day immersed in the pleasures of Paris. Over the course of 24 hours, Lynn remembered what her soul truly craved: beauty, color, strolling along tree-lined streets and stopping occasionally to photograph what caught her eye, putting herself in front of art and fashion that took her breath away, gathering items for a picnic at an open-air market, delighting in shops filled with artisanal cheeses and jams, gifting herself time to hear herself think, and yes, rest.
What Do You Need?
Grab your journal and a pen right now. At the top of the page, write: Where am I desperate for rest? Then, let your pen just roll right across the page. Let yourself not think too much about the question. Like Lynn, our souls already know.
Do you need a weekend in bed doing absolutely nothing other than reading, napping, or watching movies?
Do you need to schedule (and take) a long weekend away?
Do you need hours and hours of unscheduled time in solitude?
Do you need time alone in a cafe with your journal (and without your phone) at least two times a week?
Creativity and Rest
My hard-charging clients tend to refuse to believe our best work, our most stunning creative output, is directly correlated to how much rest and pleasure we gift ourselves. Culture tells us the lie that more doing is the only path to success, that it’s commendable to be desperate for rest.
Try a little experiment this weekend and see for yourself. Sink into at least four hours of restorative, “unproductive” time spent alone. Notice what shifts as a result. Witness blocks miraculously dissolve. Relish your connection to new ideas, new ways of seeing.
Enjoy a cooled, rested mind and a joyful spirit renewed with energy. Desire, always, always out pulls discipline.