This one’s replete with introspection. Consider yourself forewarned.

By Liza of JuniperSpring Photography

If I had to pick one word to describe myself, it would be “restless”. If I had to pick two words, they would be “really restless”.

My main concern isn’t that I am restless, though. Rather, it’s the question of whether I should be aiming for some sort of inner peace, or whether restless, inside and out, is actually a vital sign of a healthy organism.

If you break this near-constant state of inner and outer agitation into its components, I think it would look like this:

1. Nutrition and lifestyle. Yes, I am willing to acknowledge that I wouldn’t be quite so jumpy if I ate less donuts and ran more laps on the treadmill. Also, if I worked in a field instead of an office, I would get that much-needed workout without having to spend “extra”, outside-of-work time on it.

2. Parenting. As a mother, I have noticed that it is impossible to concentrate on any given task for more than ten seconds when the kids are indoors, and more than 5 minutes when they are playing outside. Even if it seems like they are fully engrossed in their drawings or house playing or bike-riding, it invariably happens that the minute I steal away into the restroom, I get a bang on the door and the ear-piercing, “MOM! I gotta pee!!!” So, as a coping mechanism, I believe, mothers learn to constantly change focus, change gears and tasks, so as not to suffer the terrible agony of being torn away from something the minute you feel that you’re submerging yourself into it. Hence, the restlessness.

3. Goal-oriented-ness. I feel a tremendous satisfaction (and relief) when a task or project is brought to completion. I like to “get things done”. And since there is usually an awful amount of “thing” swirling around in my head and on my To-Do lists, I dash madly from project to project, trying to finish this letter, change that lightbulb, install a new ceiling lamp, finish typing grandpa’s book, finish editing mine….yeah. Like that. It doesn’t help that I am a weakling and can’t say NO to practically any idea or proposal. In my quotidian battles with Self I will easily overpower Self and convince her that this inability to say NO is actually a good quality. (She doesn’t need much convincing anyway). But here, as an exception, I’ll fess up and say it: I need to stop being a wimp.

But I digress. Apart from all of the above explanations for my restlessness, there is a deeper, underlying cause. In my deepest heart of hearts, I kinda think peaceful is boring. Yes, I know this dates me as a typical twentysomething. Yes, I imagine I will grow out of it. And No, I don’t plan to.

Hey, there’s a reason why those that are “laid down to rest” are usually dead. I’m not there yet. There’s also this great anecdote about a famous musician, I believe, who lived a very full life, was active and performing up until his eighties, and accomplished much in his long life. In an interview the journalist asked him, “You’ve accomplished a great deal in your long, full life. Are you ready to take a rest now?” Without missing a beat the musician replied, “Rest before what?” That response is one of my mantras in life. Restlessness is similar to a lack of complacency. It leads to progress, innovation, creativity. In biology, if a metabolic process is at rest, the organism is said to be dead. In physics, if you’re in motion it’s easier to just keep moving than to force yourself to stop. Then there’s the great expression, “a woman in motion remains in motion”, and the savory concept of “entropy”.

But another thought lingers. Jesus said, “Come onto me, all who are weak, weary, and heavy laden. Gentle am I, humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls…” If Jesus valued peace so much, if he called himself the Prince of Peace, there must be something to it. There must be activity and vivacity which can happen without the near-constant malaise. I do wonder what that peace must feel like. I do hope that some day I will be ready and able to find out.

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