Back in 1984, my cousin Richard and I backpacked to California and ended up somehow in the deserts of Morocco, a North African country bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.
One day we saw out of the van window in which we were travelling, a bright green dot on the horizon. It sat surprisingly alone amongst the dry barren brown desert and didn’t seem to fit the view.
As we approached, the scene opened up to what I can only describe as a large depression in the landscape of about three to four hundred yards.
There, hidden inside, was an oasis with palm trees, crystal clear water and locals sitting around and swimming in the water. Even more amazingly, while being hundreds of miles from the Atlantic coast, there were fish swimming in the pool also.
After many miles of wasteland and desert, this was a refreshing sight and we walked down and put our feet in the cool water. In my broken French, which struck a chorus of amused laughter, I ordered a drink and got in the water.
It was indeed a piece of paradise we had unexpectedly arrived at and we sat in awe of this wonderous secret place.
Do you know that feeling? That deep inside your gut feeling of finding a hidden place where time and responsibility stops.
We all need that place of rest. We need to arrive and stop for a while at places where we can kick our shoes off and just breathe the air. To rest our weary minds and be served by others.
It seems that in the western world we do not ‘do’ leisure well. Often, we fill our leisure time with ‘fun’ and activities which are more distractions from work rather than really resting from work.
I know that when our kids were really young, true leisure was almost impossible as they would zone in on times when we seemed not busy and try to fill those gaps, nagging to avoid the stillness.
I find that people in personal turmoil often seem to go without true rest. They are always communicating with others and not often communicating with themselves. In observation, rest times seem to be filled with other activities to take their minds off the fact that they are caught in currents that are dictating their days and months and years.
I hope you got to have some oasis time in the holiday season and just dangled your feet in the water without fulfilling any tasks or reason. Your rest prevents burnout because when we are so exhausted, we are not giving out of our authentic selves. Parker J. Palmer infers in his book, Let your Life Speak, that when we give out of our authentic selves we are exhilarated and built up. You can read my book review here.
Resting is a valuable, effective, self-preserving habit that we all need. There are many research findings on the social and practical implications of rest for career growth and work-based learning.
“People consciously reflect in order to understand events in their lives and as a consequence hopefully add and enhance meaning.”
Helyer, R. (2015), “Learning through reflection: the critical role of reflection in work-based learning (WBL)”, Journal of Work-Applied Management, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 15-27. https://doi.org/10.1108/JWAM-10-2015-003
The difficult trick is remembering to leave.
As the new year beckons we must once again push out from the safe harbour of idle days and reasonless moments. Just one more day you say. One more chapter of this book. One more late morning with no agenda.
I do hear you. Often we are tempted to stay in the ‘warm bed’ of relaxation and not veer out into the lanes of traffic again. After quenching our thirst, it is time to push back out into the deep. It feels awkward, slow and clumsy but we must do it.
“The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man’s foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher.”Thomas H. Huxley
I am reminded of a man who was serving in Vietnam during the war in the 70s. He told us of one patrol where, after many days of bugs, mud and fear of engagement with the enemy, their unit came upon a luxurious pool of water complete with background waterfall!
Being careful and putting a selection of soldiers on watch, some were able to put their weapons down and have a swim while others ‘peeled off’ their boots and socks, stiff with sweat and grime, and just dangle their blistered feet in the cool water.
It was as if they had arrived in paradise.
He went on to say that, while it was a luxurious and refreshing rest, they had to move on and not linger there. The team knew that this could be a perfect trap for an enemy to plan an ambush. It was a place where you are comfortable and your guard is down.
They knew and acted upon the knowledge and importance of being at rest but not mentally lazy.
It is carried through in the habit of always keeping just a little maintenance happening in the background, even in the oasis, so that we do not lose too many steps forward. It is also in knowing that many of us can lose focus and be softly lulled into a deep sleep where an enemy of what we are trying to achieve softly approaches.
As your new year opens up and 2020 schedules begin to flow on to your desk, remember that you too, cannot stay at the oasis.
You know the rest was effective, but now we must ship out and move on. It is time to leave the mountain top and go back to the valleys below because that is where we will grow the most.
Reflect and check: Is your community inspiring and releasing you to go onwards and upwards to new heights in your career or holding you down? Are you getting things done with education and motivation and or just treading water?
Thanks for reading! I’d love you to share your thoughts in the comment space below!
Dave is an Adult Educator, Speaker and Youth leader living in Western Sydney, Australia where he teaches the Electrical Trades at the Western Sydney Institute. He has Diplomas in Business and Training, a Bachelors Degree in Adult Education, Vocational and Workplace Training and a Masters of Education with a major in Career Development. He has lived with Tourette’s Syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety Disorders since an early age, you can read his story online. He is married with 6 children. He is a passionate coach and mentor to young people especially in the vocational guidance and career development areas. Dave is a professional member of the Career Development Association of Australia and has authored a course on Living with Tourette’s which you can study and purchase online through his website – www.davebrebner.com.