The morning opens pink and blue, soft-clouded in a smokey grey mantle. Today will be another warm one, once the sun gains height and fire. These days of soft air and buzzing insects are dreamy. As I watered the planters last evening, the air still sunshine hot, I watched the flower heads standing quite still, the shrubs upright and elegant, proud to show their colours to the sky. No bashing wind to tear away delicate petals, no strong fingers pulling at their stalks until they bend or break in defeat. I could hear every sound without interference and I stopped awhile to listen. I could even hear my own heart beating. It was like the world had stopped to rest.
It is easy to urge others to rest, to take rest very seriously. I wonder sometimes how on earth we think it’s ok to move faster, take on more, say yes to anyone who asks, but not quite so ok to rest in equal proportions to the demands set before us. I remember my mum saying I’ll rest when I’m dead, and laughing with her as she did. But there is a truth and a nonsense in there somewhere. I give rest a high importance sticker in my life now, but as a young woman juggling a thousand plates and foolishly thinking they would all crash and break if it wasn’t me who kept them high.
The sidelines of weary rising to exhaustion manifest themselves in many different ways. First of all comes the snap of a tongue lash, a sudden bursting of the blister. Long before someone sinks to the ground there can be eating disorders, sleeplessness, worries that tie and bind a troubled mind until it’s very hard to work out the knots. Frowns that form tramlines on a face, thinned lips, ground-down teeth, weight loss or gain, strange choices, introversion, excess and many more delights come as the mind and body scream for rest. I was crap at it, the resting thing and nobody could tell me, or, rather, people did but my ears were full of demands so that I listened not to the still small voice of calm, but instead swatted it away like a fly.
Oh the wisdom of reverse looking! How we oldies can see what we did wrong and how completely disinterested is the next generation in what we say, rolling their eyes as we had rolled our own eyes at such wrinkly advice. That was your time, they say. Life is different now, faster, louder, more demanding, more competitive. They have a point. But didn’t we say the same thing when we were young all those years ago, thinking that ‘if it is to be it’s up to me’? I certainly did. And although I got safely enough through my own life, I still wonder if it might have been an easier sail, had I let go of the helm at times instead of leaving it way too late. I’m down here! I would cry, from my collapsed position on the floor and then someone would have to pull me back up. All I felt was shame, not because I left it too late to ask for help or admitted ‘I am not enough’, but because I collapsed at all.
I watch my children run too fast, missing the garden still of their days and I can do nothing but watch. I point out some holes in a fallen trunk. Fairy homes. There are fairies in these woods. Let’s look for more, shall we? But there is the sound of a message coming through, a ping that demands attention from a mobile phone and the only ones joining me on this fairy hunt are the little ones.