This week I took a break, which is not something I do very often. I enjoy working on projects – personal and professional – so I tend to take a break from one flavor of project by working on another. I break from work to get a personal project done. Or break from a personal project to complete a house project. But this week, I took a break from everything and went into the woods for a couple days.
Even though it’s not my usual mode, every time I’ve taken a break from part or all of regularly scheduled life, I get something out of it. The most obvious benefit of taking a break is rejuvenation. It’s generally beneficial for humans to take a break and recover after a stint of focused or intensive working. I participate in the madness that is Tax Season every year, so right after the deadline I disappear from the office for a couple weeks to catch up on sleep.
When I come back, I’m well rested and back to feeling like a complete human being. That means I can once again be available for the needs of any other human, so I’m ready and excited to help my clients. It seems like the more intensive the working (and the greater the personal drain), the greater the need for recovery and so the greater the benefit from taking a break.
In addition to recovery, I have also experienced a great benefit from breaks in the form of new perspective. A couple years into my martial arts training, I broke my foot and then came down with a serious illness that prevented me from training for a few months. With just a broken foot, I was able to attend classes in a chair and work some upper body techniques. But the addition of the illness kept me entirely off the training floor and out of the dojo.
When I came back a couple months later, I started slowly and took it easy during classes for the first few weeks. Even though I was moving more slowly than the rest of the class, I was surprised at the variety of my offensive and defensive choices during sparring. I was a less predictable and more nuanced fighter than I had been before my break. It felt like some of the principles I had been working had fully soaked in during my time away.
I have experienced a similar thing with creative projects. There are many times where I have toiled and fussed with something that just isn’t quit the way I want it. Then I take a nap. And upon waking, I suddenly see exactly what needs to shift to bring all the pieces together to complete my vision.
It can be all too easy in our fast-paced, high-demand, quick-turn-around society to neglect the space between things. But in those moments of silence and non-doing lives great potential. When I fill my life with assignments and tasks, that leaves no room for the infinite possibilities of the universe. Taking a break this week reminded me of the fullness of potential in those empty spaces.
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Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.