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The Seasons of A Being
On productivity and rest
The hardest thing to do sometimes is not work; it’s rest. Productivity can be the means to avoid the discomfort that accompanies stillness, and rest is often paired with guilt. The obsession with productivity goes back for centuries; it’s a feature of a system that equates leisure with sin and rest with laziness. We should ourselves into doing more work, prepping, planning, creating, or delusionally catching up on email. To see action unfolding or results taking shape gives us meaning and purpose, and even lets us come alive.
That’s why being at ease with long pauses or lulls can be challenging unless the relationship between productivity and rest is seen in a different light.
A friend and Mohawk Elder shared a teaching with me on honouring personal seasons, and understanding our periods of planning, working, harvesting, and hibernating can be out of sync with the Earth’s rotation. It could be summertime outside, with long daylight hours and favourable weather, but it’s winter for you.
Accepting and internalizing that teaching means giving yourself space to identify which season you’re in and how much energy you can expend on doing versus being. If you’ve been working flat out for months, and your project is coming to an end, it may be time to prepare for rest. If you’ve had an idea percolating for a while or have been planting seeds of change somewhere, the time for action is approaching. And if you’ve overextended yourself and can neither think nor do or finish the work, perhaps you need to have a long winter, so it’s time to rest now.
Honouring one’s seasons begins by consciously separating our ideas of busyness and rest from cultural norms and timeframes projected onto us. You can opt for some much-needed hygge, lighting candles in the middle of July and cosying up with a blanket as you watch others grind away in their season of doing.
Ambition and hard work don’t vanish when we rest; they hibernate within us and emerge when ready, carrying focused ideas, visions, and the energy required to do the job and reap the rewards.
Moving through the seasons gave me a sense of peace and calm, as I paced myself across different areas of my life. Observing my energy and time allocations told me where I was in my year and allowed me to communicate my boundaries and intentions better. Guilt slowly left the couch, and the need to keep moving loosened its grip on me.
“So what should I do during my autumn season?” I asked the Elder once. “Clean, tie up loose ends, spend time with friends and family, and show gratitude for all the work and the results you’ve gotten in your year.”
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