Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
The thought of endless hours lying on a tropical beach underneath a swaying palm, enjoying your favorite novel while sipping on some exotic concoction and nibbling on equally unfamiliar but delicious fare—what could be better? Skiing down the mountain at lightning speed, the swish of the snow beneath your skis and the bite of the air nipping at your cheeks, perhaps? Or, traveling from place to place, experiencing exotic locales and learning the ways of unfamiliar cultures? Regardless of what is on the “bucket list”, it is a pretty sure bet that the four-letter word W-O-R-K isn’t anywhere on it. After all, who in his or her right mind would look forward to…to…dare I say it: work?
Icing on the Cake
While the thought of any one of the aforementioned scenarios could cause the pulse to flutter, I equate those activities to the “icing” on the proverbial cake. And, we all know what happens when we eat too much icing. Granted, it’s fun to sneak a spoonful from the bowl or grab the piece of cake that has the big buttercream flowers smack-dab on top. But if we were to be given a bowl full of only frosting, would we dare gobble it up?
Agreed, downtime is absolutely and utterly necessary and enjoyable for a time. We all need to escape the grind of the everyday to recharge our batteries. If we didn’t, we would be in danger of an all-out downward spiral into the depths of exhaustion—of burnout. And, burnout leaves us turned inside out, empty and with nothing left to give.
After a period of down time, though, we begin to grow restless. We feel…unfulfilled. With our batteries charged, just lying around without a goal or direction causes a creeping level of stress to overtake us, and the exhaustion finds its way back with a vengeance.
So, what to do?
In these circumstances, I find one word stands out above all others as the answer: balance.
Balance says that when the rest is over, it is the next goal that we seek. It’s hardwired into us. Achievement, accomplishment, discovery, pursuit. It’s the journey.
A Prime Example
It has been many years since I have had to take pitchfork in hand and muck out stalls. I have eight beautiful horses who, for all practical purposes, live the life of a domesticated wild herd. They eat a natural diet, and they spend their days not laboring under saddle but languidly eating their way from one corner of our pasture to another. While they are beautiful to gaze upon, there is a disconnect in our relationship. I’ve been “resting” in their self-sufficiency. Of course, I am privileged to observe their daily comings and goings, to throw a bale of hay here and there, but I’ve not really been a “part” of them for some time.
Yesterday, with a visit to the vet and a dental examination, our former stallion, Tuff, was pronounced a “senior” member of the equine community here at our farm, and as such, will require a whole new regimen to regain his condition, maintain his health, and ensure he enjoys many years to come.
This new routine comes with a heightened involvement from me. It requires daily stall muckings, feedings, and other interactions that the others do not require. It will be exhausting, especially once the growing season comes and general farm maintenance activities increase. It will require much more of a physical investment from me. Oddly enough, rather than dreading the inevitable, I looked forward to it. A newfound energy welled up inside me, and I bound into the first day of Tuff’s new life with gusto!
And, so it is that I found myself admitting the one unthinkable truth: it is the work and accomplishment of goals that fulfills us. The blood, sweat, and tears of trials won, of lessons learned, and of battles well-fought. The pursuit of a noble goal. It makes us stronger. It enlightens us. It gives us purpose.
And when we seize that next goal, achieve that next level—what then? Most certainly we rest in the knowledge that we accomplished. We rest our bodies, our minds, our souls. And, when the rest is over, we set sail again for a new adventure—and a new coast.