This being human is cyclical. We aren’t awake all the time. We aren’t creative all the time. We aren’t at our best all the time. When we “fall off the wagon” of our plans – exercise, diet, or any creative goal, we feel like we are failures. It is very hard to get back on that wagon and get going again.
But it is essential to allow for these times of rest and reflection. Just like a seed has to spend time in the dark to begin to sprout and grow towards the light, our lives need times of inwardness and quiet. This is very hard for us to do. Perhaps it is a guilt trip that society places on us. We think we should always be active and moving and growing. We think we should always be working on a project.
However, this simply does not mesh with nature. Every creature has to sleep. Every plant has periods of growth and decay. We have simply to look around us at the natural world to realize we are fighting against what truly is.
We like to think we are above nature. We have done a pretty good job of separating ourselves from it. We live in houses where we can have light anywhere and anytime. We can adjust the temperature to anything we want to suit our needs or our whim. We have created things to eat that do not resemble anything in nature, so of course we don’t know about the natural cycles. We forget ourselves when we do this. We set ourselves up for failure.
When we wind down and stop going to the gym or start eating unhealthy foods again and we gain some of our weight back we tend to beat ourselves up for it. We think we are failures. We don’t notice that we’ve only gained back 5 pounds when in total we’ve lost 50. When we wind down and stop creating we tend to think the same thing. Whatever creative outlet we pursue, we sometimes have a tendency to notice all the blank canvases or raw materials than see the finished work.
There is certainly a danger in taking time out. There is a danger in that lull, that slowing. There is the danger that you’ll stay there, doing nothing. There is a danger that you’ll stay in the dark and never sprout. Inwardly, we all know this. We may not be able to speak it out loud. But that feeling drives us to get over our “slow” times or “no” times as fast as possible because we are afraid we’ll be stuck there. But then we may burn out. If we constantly work our bodies and brains we will wear out. We need down time. Take a day once a week to do nothing, and see how much it improves your work.