Core Decorum: Actually Resting

Illustration courtesy of Cecilia Lang.

I have found that one of my favorite activities is doing nothing.

In 21st century America it is fashionable to be busy; it can seem necessary to be active at all times, but constant activity is not necessarily efficient or productive.

While ambition and a strong work ethic are certainly good, it can be not only relaxing, but beneficial, simply to sit, without even thumbs on phone, reflecting or just being at ease.

Sometimes it is difficult to begin to work on things. I find that I may waste an hour or even more mindlessly scrolling on my phone or staring into space. However, I feel as though I should be productive, and so I should continue to try and do work, even though I may just end up wasting more time and getting still less done.

In my experience, though, it seems an hour long nap can be much more worthwhile than attempting to use more time to study in which ultimately I achieve less.

My dog is 15 years old, and especially in his elderly dog years he is happy to lounge around all day. Rarely have I seen in this day and age anyone who is as satisfied as that dog to sit without action for even half an hour. One should use time wisely, but that doesn’t necessarily mean being frenetic.

William Wordsworth wrote that “we can feed this mind of ours / In a wise passiveness.”

Maybe we should not waste away all our hours sitting around. If we hope to pass all our classes, we might benefit from taking a half hour or maybe more to actually rest.

Whether it is a time of thoughtful reflection or actual sleep, I posit that either option would be more beneficial to a student than going to the library for hours tired or scatterbrained and ending up frittering away time in mental distraction.  

But perhaps one ought to study well, not more. One is just as, if not more, productive working for a shorter length of time in a refreshed and more focused way than trying to work on something for hours with frequent lapses of attention.

While laziness probably won’t take anyone very far, we ought not let rest and sleep be vilified. If we set aside some time to rest, then we can spend less time doing things half-heartedly, and instead approach actions with more attention and deliberateness.


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