Posted By: Sam Burke
Rest and sleep are not the same thing.
That’s the conclusion I’ve reached these past few weeks. MAss Acceleration – even though we were strongly cautioned against it –didn’t take any days off this summer. And unfortunately, now we’re paying the price.
It wasn’t really a conscious decision. No one cried out “Let’s not take one single day off!” and no one then chimed in with a “Hear, hear. What a splendid idea, let’s work ourselves to the brink of exhaustion!”.
None of that happened. Really – and this is the problem – there was no conversation about it at all. Sometimes we reminisced of the concept ‘free time’ and how it used to be such a relaxing, fun part of our lives. But no steps were actually made in penciling it in to our daily agendas or fitting it in to our current town. Instead, we just kept scheduling and scheduling.
If anything was to blame, it was our enthusiasm. We didn’t want to miss anything, and we wanted to please everyone. And for a while, we achieved both those things.
But it’s impossible to go for ten weeks without a break. No one is the energizer bunny (although Sara Hopps, our teammate, may be the closest thing to a human prototype).
Bleary eyes combined with over-arching yawns combined with tired legs, and suddenly our gait changed. We walked haltingly and slowly with our hands stretched out before us. We were told we looked like zombies, which isn’t exactly what the face of the environmental movement should be associated with. We have enough image problems already.
And so Mass Acceleration began to grind to a halt. Not purposefully, but rather involuntarily. Without rest, it was harder to think, plan, and react.
Last week, we met an organic farmer, Lauren, in our Best Practices at Worcester’s Green Solidarity Economy Conference. As we discussed fossil fuel usage in relation to transportation, agriculture, and energy, Karen made a very good point:
You don’t have to fight 24/7. In fact, you probably shouldn’t.
Even though she’s an organic farmer, Karen still stops at Whole Foods when she’s too tired – after farming dawn to dusk – to cook herself a meal. When she’s too exhausted to fight anymore, she takes a few hours to do some yoga, or takes a few days off to meditate.
This obviously wouldn’t work for everyone. Not everyone has the schedule that permits taking a few days off. Not everyone enjoys meditation or yoga. But everyone needs rest.
Every single person can find some time in his or her life to stop.
Even if it’s only for a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days.
At a potluck earlier this week with Springfield’s Arise for Social Justice, MAss Acceleration met Bill Gibson, a seriously amazing individual. Bill – one of the leading activists protesting a Biomass Incinerator in Springfield – never forgets to have fun.
We biked to Bill’s house last night, where we had a wonderful BBQ with his housemates and friends. Our conversations ranged from music to politics, but we never talked about the environment, fossil fuels, or bio mass incinerators, which was a nice change of pace.
Then we all biked to Springfield’s Thursday night summer concert series, where we completely lost ourselves by dancing in the grass for a few hours.
Last night, I returned to First Christ Church Cathedral – where we are living this week – covered in dust and with my Tevas close to destroyed.
And I could not have been happier.
This morning I woke up a little more rested. But I was also a little sad. I knew my night of rest was over. When I looked at my teammates this morning, I could see the same feeling in their eyes. But it’s also key to remember to start again. Or else nothing good will be done in this world.
So this morning we remembered, and restarted ourselves.
And I think it will make all the difference.