In the point of rest at the center of our being, we encounter a world where all things are at rest in the same way. Then a tree becomes a mystery, a cloud a revelation, each man a cosmos of whose riches we can only catch glimpses. The life of simplicity is simple, but it opens to us a book in which we never get beyond the first syllable.
I think you should learn, of course, and some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything. And you can feel it inside of you. If you never take time out to let that happen, then you accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside of you. You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. It’s hollow.
―E. L. Konigsburg, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Image: Rest at Harvest by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1865
There were profound reasons for his attachment to the sea: he loved it because as a hardworking artist he needed rest, needed to escape from the demanding complexity of phenomena and lie hidden on the bosom of the simple and tremendous; because of a forbidden longing deep within him that ran quite contrary to his life’s task and was for that very reason seductive, a longing for the unarticulated and immeasurable, for eternity, for nothingness. To rest in the arms of perfection is the desire of any man intent upon creating excellence; and is not nothingness a form of perfection?
―Thomas Mann, Death in Venice
I feel so dreamy
dreamy lazy, crazy sleepy
like I want to be there
in the doorway, the doorway
or the porch corner
be sitting, be empty
not doing not going
an old bucket left there
in the porch corner is like I am
an old empty bucket somebody left there.
―Ursula K. Le Guin, Always Coming Home
O night, O sweetest time, though black of hue,
with peace you force all the restless work to end;
those who exalt you see and understand,
and he is sound of mind who honours you.
You cut the thread of tired thoughts, for so
you offer calm in your moist shade; you send
to this low sphere the dreams where we ascend
up to the highest, where I long to go.
Shadow of death that brings to quiet close
all miseries that plague the heart and soul,
for those in pain the last and best of cures;
you heal the flesh of its infirmities,
dry and our tears and shut away our toil,
and free the good from wrath and fretting cares.
―Michelangelo, Complete Poems and Selected Letters
In the dark I rest,
unready for the light which dawns
day after day,
eager to be shared.
Black silk, shelter me.
more of the night before I open
eyes and heart
to illumination. I must still
grow in the dark like a root
not ready, not ready at all.
The world rests in the night. Trees, mountains, fields, and faces are released from the prison of shape and the burden of exposure. Each thing creeps back into its own nature within the shelter of the dark. Darkness is the ancient womb. Nighttime is womb-time. Our souls come out to play. The darkness absolves everything; the struggle for identity and impression falls away. We rest in the night.
―John O’Donohue,Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.
“…what I like doing best is Nothing.”
“How do you do Nothing?” asked Pooh, after he had
wondered for a long time.
“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re
going off to do it ‘What are you going to do, Christopher
Robin?’ and you say ‘Oh, nothing,’ and then you go and do it.”
“Oh, I see,” said Pooh.
“This is a nothing sort of thing that we’re doing now.”
“Oh, I see,” said Pooh again.
“It means just going along, listening to all the things
you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
“Oh!” said Pooh.