This week I started reading ‘How to be Idle‘. Some of you may think I don’t need any instruction on the subject, and some days I’m inclined to agree. But an awful lot of my rest time is filled with a vague sense of unease, and a feeling that I really should be doing something else.
Way back in January, I wrote a guest post for another blog, which was never published. Today, while I sat in the garden, I remembered this post, and thought I’d share it here instead.
I spend a lot of time sitting down. I sit at work, on the train, at home, and in cafes. Often I’ll be in front of a computer screen; sometimes with a book, or the television, or a notebook and pen, or my knitting. I’m sitting, but I’m often doing at the same time.
Lately I’ve had to rethink how I spend my sitting time.
Right at the end of 2011, I had my thyroid removed. I’m fortunate – I’m young and strong, and healing well. But I was left with a shocking lack of energy, a cotton wool stuff head that felt baffled by the slightest thing, and instructions to stay off work and rest for a couple of weeks.
My operation was planned in advance, so I made sure I had plenty to do while I was resting. I’d had books for Christmas, including a new knitting book with a few little projects to try. Friends arranged to visit, and I had plenty of films to watch.
As it happened, my body’s idea of ‘resting’ wasn’t quite the same as mine. After an hour of reading or talking, I was exhausted, and while I could hold my knitting needles, my befuddled brain couldn’t quite figure out what to do with them.
Ordinarily my rest time is quite active. I’ll read, catch up with unfinished sewing projects, see friends, go for a walk, potter around the garden, bake… But these past weeks I’ve not been able to do any of that.
I’ve had to spend a lot of time sitting. Just sitting, nothing else. And I saw things that I would never have seen with my nose in a book.
I witnessed the silhouettes of two squirrels scampering around a tree at sunrise
I’m slowly getting back to normal activity levels now. I can manage a whole afternoon of reading, and can even go for a walk and meet a friend at a cafe. And yes, I can knit again.
But as my head’s started to clear, I’ve noticed a little voice creeping back in. ‘Don’t just sit there,’ it tells me, ‘you should be doing something.’ Even though I’m not back at work, the voice reminds me there’s sewing to do, dinner to make, books to read, friends to call, and sunshine and fresh air to be walked in.
Yes, there is always something I could be doing. But I feel rejuvenated by the time I’ve spent just sitting and noticing these past days. I’ve promised myself I’ll make time for it.
What about you? Do you have any time that isn’t filled with activity, or even active rest? How much time do you spend just sitting?