Sometimes In Life, You Need To Step On The Breaks
Imagine you’re in a car, driving your family through a switchback road down a hill. The engine roaring away; like the ripples of a stone, the silence of the forest prickles. Nature wraps the noise in her dress, claiming it for her own, and engulfs you in her mesmerizing beauty. Rays of the sun shimmering through the leaves, lace the green tops with an orange shade. The ocean of warmth seizes you, like the branches fluttering in the wind, your heart floats across a river of peace. The whole forest has shaken hands on tranquillity as you maneuver the vehicle carefully, braking and shifting gears as you require.
You have to be gentle with the car. It’s your life. Far too often I’ve met people who floor the gas as they face a turn. They think slowing down is ‘laziness’, the reason why they’re failing is that they weren’t giving it all. You’ve probably spent a lifetime pushing through problems head first, clutching onto the belief that hard work and success share a linear relationship. When something finally arises which can’t be pushed through, instead of rethinking strategies, you roll your sleeves and step it up. You sacrifice sleep and personal health to finally see a crack open through. Time is on your side as your body and mind ache for rest. But you don’t. All your life you’ve heard how hard work pays off; how pain and suffering are vital for success. Surely if you crank at it a few times more and hold on longer, success is imperative? Although some would trudge through unfazed, most are in for a rude awakening. George Orwell satirizes this in Animal Farm. Unwittingly, we end up as the Boxer to the Napoleons of our life.
It’s not their fault. That’s what they’ve heard all their life. Teachers, preachers, media and, everyone else have propagated the same lie from their childhood. The self-help business propagates this misconception, encouraging people to overwork and burn themselves out because taking a well-deserved break is a ‘sin’. The cultural effects are clear in Asian countries like Japan where death by overtime [Karoshi] is looked up to.
You can run a sprint
You can run a marathon
But you can’t sprint a marathon
Proper rest and self-care aren’t lazy. They’re smart. Acknowledging limits is necessary to optimize yourself, however contradictory it might sound. Often it’s the hardest thing to do for some as it goes against the core beliefs they were taught and grew up with. You’ve probably heard how hard-working Ronaldo is. Have you heard how well he rests too? Probably not. God forbid if people realize resting is essential to aid growth! As far as the system you’re in is concerned, burning you out and replacing you is way more convenient than ensuring your well-being. This is one of the times when going against the tide and not giving yourself up to outside pressure will benefit you.
Let’s go back to our car. Life has its ups and downs, twists and turns. Why do you hesitate to lower the gear then? Remember, there are people in the back dependent on you. If the car goes down, they go down with you. So maybe you should slow down a bit. Roll down the windows and let the forest hold you in its captivity. The destination need not dictate the journey. Each turn has its own story to be told. Your problems dissipate into the wind as its faint whispers unravel paths hidden to you. No longer a traveler; the forest travels through you. The miles stretch along. Neither beginning nor end to the entangled wires, as each turn, reminisce vague memories of the ones traveled by. Time loops around itself, its passing holds no significance. It doesn’t matter. That moment, you’ve already arrived.
“My Mama Always Said Life Was Like A Box Of Chocolates. You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get.’” — Forrest Gump