Rest is not idleness,
and to lie sometimes on the grass
under trees on a summer's day,
listening to the murmur of the water,
or watching the clouds float across the sky,
is by no means a waste of time.
~ John Lubbock
We are having exceptionally warm weather in the SF Bay Area this week, where summers are usually foggy and chilly. I visited a friend who has a beautiful home in the Berkeley Hills. She and her husband have done a lot of work on their yard/garden; it is a beautiful refuge and respite full of flowers and fruit trees, a vegetable garden and a beautiful patio shaded naturally by flowering trees and bushes.
We sat in the patio in comfortable reclining garden chairs, drinking fruit-flavored water and talking for several hours. My friend commented a few times that she seldom simply sits and enjoys her garden, instead spending time weeding or pruning and doing other tasks. Rarely does she take the time to simply be, feeling the air, watching the clouds, listening to the wind, the birds, the insects, the planes overhead and the passing trains, distant but audible.
Rest and relaxation are often perceived as idleness (which is seen as negative) in this culture based on our heritage of a long-ago Puritan work ethic. We often feel guilty if we simply sit and do nothing but BE. Enjoying the moment, the delicious feel of the air, the sun, the wind are simple pleasures that we seldom allow ourselves. Or if we begin to feel them, we may become restless ( an interesting word if dissected!) or anxious and want to return to doing something.
Can you allow yourself today, even 5 minutes of simply feeling what is, of simply being and experiencing the sun, the air, the sounds, the sights, of simply taking in what is? I guarantee you will feel refreshed and renewed!
Peggy Handler, MFT, is a psychotherapist in San Francisco's Noe Valley