We all need to take a break
It takes (clean) energy to be an environmentalist. Give yourself a rest.
Tue, Oct 13, 2009 at 03:43 PM
Yesterday I rested -- I read some, I sat on the front porch in my rocking chair, I spent some time exploring new ideas, and in the evening I went to a movie and then out to dinner with friends to discuss it. This was time I needed. It was Sabbath time.
The truth is that last week was a whirlwind, and between the farm and writing and the other work I do to pay my bills I was busy. Plus, with volunteering to help with the Arkansas Natural State Expo Green Home Show on Saturday, I was even busier. On top of that, I have been anxious lately, especially about the presidential race. Every chance I get I am clicking through my blog reader to see what the latest news is, which isn't helpful at all, and really doesn't give me anything constructive to do but worry, which as my brother said of himself last night, "is a hobby."
So I went into Sunday tired and anxious and a little burned out. I needed to rest and gain perspective, but more than that I needed to delight in the world. That is what my friend Norman Wirzba says Sabbath is -- it’s not the complete cessation of activity, rather a delight in the creation. For me that delight came in a great cup of coffee brewed in a French press rather than the weekday drip maker; pancakes Jessica and I made with blueberries, bananas, and chocolate chips; and the luxury of reading (ironically) How to Be Idle, a book I have not been idle enough to finish for months.
What is important about days like this is that it not only gives me a break, but it gives me perspective. Going into this week, I realize that the world will not fall apart if I don't work for a day, that my farm can survive if I just feed and water the animals, that I am still a well-informed person if I don't know which presidential candidate made the latest gaffe, or who was yelling what slur at which candidates rally. With these realizations I am beginning to think that it might be useful to take little Sabbaths throughout the week. So I am going to experiment.
Tuesday and Wednesday are going to be news-free days -- no NPR or blogs until the debate. I'm going to spend the time I could have been reading and cringing and getting angry fishing at the farm, or bird watching, or just rocking in my chair on the front porch after it’s dark.
We are all in need of Sabbaths, especially those of us who work for change and good. I see a lot of burnout in my friends who are involved in everything from fighting coal to providing local food. We need their work, and we need them to keep going. So we also need them -- very much -- to take a break.
Story by Ragan Sutterfield. This article originally appeared in Plenty in October 2008. It was added to MNN.com.