“He that can take rest is greater than he that can take cities.” —Benjamin Franklin

It used to be that resting one day a week was a religious observance practiced in many cultures — a recognition that our very soul benefits from the rest from our labor. Doctors also tell us to take it easy and avoid stress — recognizing that our bodies need adequate rest in order to rejuvenate and stay healthy. Athletes know that proper physical training requires a due amount of downtime in order to build muscle mass. Philosophers of old prescribed rest for the mind. Even the famed Leonardo da Vinci recommended: “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer.”

Our modern conveniences, which previous generations may have never dreamed of, don’t seem to be serving up the spare time they promised. We have washing machines and dryers that replace the need to go to the river and wash the family’s clothing, vacuum cleaners that replace straw brooms, automatic dishwashers that eliminate the need to wash and dry dishes by hand, and drive-thru’s and delivery services that even replace the need to prepare and cook dinner for our families.

We have computer search engines that can compile research information in a mere fraction of the time that would have been spent years past at the local library. Emails, texts, and instant messaging replace the need for handwritten letters or postcards — no trip to the post office required. Newspapers are biting the dust, radio is being replaced by podcasts and television slowly, but surely, succumbs to YouTube. Time marches on. In many ways — it’s a blessing. In others, not so much….

So what’s going on? Why don’t we have more time to rest?

In our frenzied modern lives, taking a day of true rest often seems extravagant. In a world of deadlines, demands, responsibilities, and the challenge of keeping pace not with the Jones’ but with the ever-evolving tech-savvy… we often find ourselves spending our free time finishing things we simply ran out of time to complete or, if we’re lucky, getting a head start on the upcoming work week and its anticipated demands. It seems that the faster we go, the faster we get behind.

However, we should realize that we’re only cheating ourselves if we don’t schedule adequate rest time. And that goes double for anyone suffering from cancer. Over thirty years ago when I was fighting cancer, I had a lot of responsibilities… including a young family and three businesses. When I came face to face with my mortality, I made the difficult decision to put myself first and to do whatever it took to regain my health. I could see no other way to be around to watch my daughter grow up. Looking back now, I am confident I made the right decision.

Just this past week, I had the pleasure of making a toast to my lifetime companion, Ann Louise, at her milestone birthday party. During the tribute I was joined onstage by my grandson, Caleb. That was such a special moment for me. My daughter Carol and her husband, were there, too. It was a night I’ll always cherish, the reason I took time for myself to learn to heal.

James and Caleb at birthday party

My grandson is a seventh generation Texan. Don’t let that teddy bear fool you. He’s as tough as they come. And I’d like to think that he’s as proud of his grandpa as I am of my ancestors.

Rest is an integral part of healing. Other cultures realize this. It’s time we did, too. If you have cancer, don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Do what you have to do. Start with setting aside at least one day a week for rest and relaxation. Do what you have to do to get quality food and nutrition. Take the time to heal. Your body will reward you according to the way you take care of yourself.

 

Article inspired by: https://www.becomingminimalist.com/resting/

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