On Saturday April 8th, the Theatre Cinecittà hosted a series of activities related to the ‘Dag van de Filosofie 2017’. Every year the event is dedicated to a special theme. This year the theme was Rest and Unrest. Maybe it’s because the Easter holidays are around the corner, or maybe it’s because my agenda in these last months has been full of deadlines and commitments… but as soon as I read the word REST, I was not able to take it off my mind.
This post is about … the power of rest.
I’ve seen around plenty of motivational posters praising work, and I’ve read plenty of golden rules about working routines that enhance productivity. And – I must admit – I even love some of these rules. See for example, the eleven commandments of writing proposed by Henry Miller.
I guess that these are all good tips, but the one I prefer is the seventh. And I think that any hard worker (hard writer) will always remember that … on the seventh day, even the Lord rested! That’s why I decided to dedicate this post to ‘ways out’ and to a modest ode to idleness.
First of all, I’d like to warn you that this is the first post I decided to write ‘old school’: just with a piece of paper and a pen, lying on my bed, without using any form of technology (besides the light bulb on my night table). Writing ‘old school’ was a challenging undertaking for me. I am not a native English speaker and I feel comfortable only when I can type using my laptop: with the automatic spelling and grammar check always on, and with an online English dictionary and Thesaurus always at hand.
Using a laptop can make your life easy; but it can also make it easier to succumb to the power of the white page. Getting access to the World Wide Web can also mean that every searching possibility can become a possibility to procrastinate.
You sit and immediately the first half hour is gone while you sort your ideas about the piece you want to write. Then, in that exact moment when you think you have finally found the perfect incipit for the sentence that you are trying to write … voila, you hear the sound that informs you about a new email in your inbox. Then, it is highly probable that an urge to read the latest news will leave you browsing multiple newspapers in different languages. After such roller coaster-readings on assorted disasters and gossips, maybe you finally want to go back to your writing, but first it’s time to put on the proper soundtrack to do so… and so on and so forth, you fall in a tunnel of random actions that delay the actual action you were initially supposed to take: writing some lines. Your head may be already full of new information, inspiration and ideas (useful or not), but your page is still as white as before.
You know what I do when I need to clear my head? When I need to escape such flow of procrastination? I go for a walk. I go for a long walk. Then, when I come back, I take my pen and a white paper sheet and, simply, I do my ‘homework’. I write. No music around. No access to laptop and phone. Usually, it works.
As I said at the beginning of this post, there are plenty of golden rules for working routines. And, certainly, I do not want to add mine. So what you can take from this story? I don’t know – maybe nothing and you have just wasted other 3 minutes of your day. But, should I make a choice about a tip to share, I’d like to give you just this: take the walk, that long walk.
No matter what you were doing before and what you will do after, just take that walk!
P.S.: When I walk I usually make solemn useless plans, such as imagining my own ‘idleness-motivational-poster’.