“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes… including you” – Anne Lammott
It’s time we all started taking unapologetic breaks.
What’s the most important word in that sentence for you? Started? Time? (It’s already running away from you even as you read this). What about taking? – As if time for ourselves is a kind of theft. Breaks? Well, that sounds like the time we steal for our own, selfish use is irreparably damaging something. Snap! and it’s broken in half. What that something is, however, I am yet to figure out.
For me, the word that sticks out from the rest is ‘unapologetic’. How many times have we all read the blog post, obligatory on each page, that begins: I’m really sorry I’ve not posted in a week/fortnight/month/year (ahem, myself of three months ago). This is followed by a self deprecating ‘not that I expect any of you noticed’ and a list of excuses detailing how very busy we’ve been. Anything, anything at all to stop people thinking we’ve been – that most shocking, most scandalous of all words – lazy.
I’m going to break the habit that is my own and everyone else’s and admit that I have been lazing. No runs and five and a half Harry Potter books later, my Summer has become a haze of late mornings, baking and watching Team GB smash the Rio Olympics.
Of course it would be wonderful to be able to swim like Adam Peaty, do Gymnastics like Simone Biles or a triathlon like the Brownlees. But you know what else is pretty great? The perfect temperature cups of tea I’ve been happily sipping for the past two weeks, momentarily surfacing from my books. The most I have had to contend with is the eternal struggle of trying to hold an eight hundred page hard back book open in one hand and somehow still manage to read whilst drinking from a very large mug. (On a related note, if you are a slurper of tea, I whole-heartedly encourage you to take a break and fix that immediately. Please. For all our sakes.)
I’m not saying this willing lethargy of many days and many nights will continue forever. Writing this post is actually signalling its end. I’m in a liminal space. I already miss that ongoing, if dwindling break and at the same time appreciate the purpose that writing just one blog post provides.
Time off is not, and never will be a bad thing. It’s been said before, but no matter how many times we repeat it, our time does indeed remain short. Your time remains short. It is, after all, yours to do with as you please. So grab it, take a firm grip – loop your fingers round and cross them tightly together if you have to – wrench that time back from the capitalist leeches, and that part of yourself that thinks you are only worth something if you are working. (Capitalist leeches are, I imagine, black, writhing, slippery. They look deceptively humorous in their square spectacles, giving the impression that they are trustworthy and intelligent. We should know better).
So. Grab a book, a pen, grab your trainers, or a hoola-hoop. Whatever it is, just for an hour, a day or even two, abandon your desk and take a bloody break. You’ve earned it.