TABOOS AGAINST RESTING


I have finally, after wasting much precious energy on comparisons, been able to fully understand and live Emerson’s injunction that ‘envy is ignorance, imitation suicide.’ I know I cannot ride rough-shod over my body. The more decomposed my body is, the less I can create.
The reason why we do not let ourselves rest to the full extent of our need is because we do not trust rest. It reminds us of death. We think, there is lots of time to rest when we are dead. Our culture places so much emphasis on doing that we feel there is something dreadfully wrong with us, some illness, perhaps, if we want to rest more than the prescribed amount. Rest is associated with degeneration, depravity, debauchery, destitution. Resting and laziness and idleness are synonymous. We hear the voices of our elders, of sayings and saws in our head: Benjamin Franklin’s “Be always asham’d to catch yourself idle;” Herman Melville’s “Toil is man’s allotment; toil of brain, or toil of hands, or a grief that’s more than either, the grief and sin of idleness;”  “Idleness is the parent of poverty.”
Socially, too, there are a lot of taboos associated with rest. There is an assumption that without these injunctions against rest and idleness, without a moral goad towards activity, we will lapse into an inactivity that will erode the very foundations of society that is based upon an equation of time and money; that civilizations will vanish, our entire infrastructure will corrode. No, we do not trust rest, we fear it. We fear it will turn us into potatoes. We feel that potato-hood is our natural state, and that without the whip we will all be bums. Of course there is always the danger that if you have a proclivity towards potato-ness that you will become one.
There are topics that are taboo, and what one does when one rests is one of them. It is considered more obscene even than sex. One of the sex gurus, Henry Miller, should know: “More obscene than anything is inertia.” But taking my cue from him who pushed the envelope in writing about sex, I will write about inertia. NEXT

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