The day of rest

Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating he had done.

Genesis 2:3

There’s hypocrisy, and there’s the hypocrisy of supposedly observant Christians whose belief in the sanctity of Sundays as a day of rest magically disappears when it comes to the issue of penalty rates. It’s funny how their beliefs make it impossible for them to countenance ANYONE having a same-sex marriage, when it seems quite obvious that if you don’t agree with gay marriage then you shouldn’t gay marry, yet they are able to approve of not compensating people who give up their ‘day of rest’ to keep the country running.

I’m doing a great deal of resting at the moment, and it has reminded me how important rest is for us humans. Not in the ‘take a 20 minute power nap so you can cram more stuff into your day” sense but in the true “give you body and mind time to recover and restore itself before taking on the next challenge” sense.

restAsk any elite performance coach how they prepare a champion for a critical competition and they will all talk about the importance of rest. You cannot deliver peak performance by constantly pushing your body or mind. And that’s true even for us schmoes who are never going to be champion anything: we perform better if we take time to recharge our batteries, rather then pushing them til they run dry.  It’s been really apparent to me how I am BURSTING with ideas now that I have slowed down. The novel I started last year and stalled on has burst back into life. I wasn’t so much blocked as mentally worn out.

Coincidentally, this week I came across a new book that argues exactly this point. In Rest, Alex Pang not only provides data to support the idea rest is necessary for work, he argues that rest is not passive, mindless relaxation, but something mindful, and deliberate. He also argues that it is a skill, that must be developed. This resonates for me, and aligns with current thinking on maintaining mental health. Beyond Blue advocate allowing employees to use sick leave entitlements for ‘mental health days’ but also caution against spending the day at home under the doona. Instead people should use the time to do something restorative—exercise, see a movie, have spa-at-home day—whatever works for you.

The technological boom was supposed to give us increased leisure, so why are all of us ‘busy’ all the time? It’s in part a culture where ‘busy-ness’ is considered a virtue…if you are ‘busy’ you are productive and contributing. If you are not, you’re lazy: a bludger. Then there’s this idea we should keep working into our old age. I got a work email this week telling me career experts are now talking about 70 year careers. To which I say: fuck that. We’re not machines. We each need to contribute to the operation of our complex society, sure, but work is not the only way we do that and when we are old we deserve to rest our weary bones and enjoy our last days.

Image courtesy @pepeMcGee

If you want to talk to Scott Morrison about the budget he’s bringing down this week, don’t bother ringing his department today, because they don’t work Sundays. Possibly resting.

We don’t need no education

That’s one of the things old Scotty boy will be trying to persuade you of in the budget. Since the LNP Government came to power, they’ve tried to cut funds for public education in every budget. They broke their promise to honour Gonski and contributed to almost $4 billion in cuts to the university sector, while squandering further billions on privatisation of the VET sector, leaving thousands of people in the lurch and without the training they were seeking.

Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed a steady drip of articles in the Australian press intended to persuade the electorate to support cuts to education. From “Universities are bloated bureaucracies that rip off students” to “Feckless graduates move overseas & rip the govt off” to their perennial favourite “Not everyone can or should go to university

Now I could go on at great length about why all of these arguments are bullshit*, but instead I want to tackle the question of why we need education. To be honest, I can’t believe we need to have this conversation but this in 2017 and we have to March for Science. I hope you’ll read and share my post.

Getting an education takes effort. If you, like most people, can’t afford to quit work and study full-time for the years it takes to get a qualification, you’ll be juggling work, family commitments and the requirements of the course. People are doing this every day, sacrificing their leisure to improve themselves. You’d think that’s something the government would reward…If that’s you today, giving up your day of rest to slog away at an assignment, here’s to you!



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