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Take the Time

A bed with wrinkled sheets sits alone, its owner no where around, illuminated by the soft yellow glow of a bedside lamp. It waits to greet the one who seeks rest.
Image by JP Valery

Almost a year into the soul-changing experience known as grief and I’ve learned a lot about myself and those around me… I’ve also learned the universal truth that I have always known deep inside; in the West, we don’t take the time…  

The time to grieve…

The time to rest…

The time to be with the weights we carry…

We hustle, bustle, grind, and consume until we can no longer separate our pain from the mundane malaise of life.  People want to know how quickly you can go back to “normal”, not how deep the wound is.  Those who want to tend the wound try but often come up short because we’ve all been trained to respond like combat medics, access the wound, dress it as quickly as possible, and keep it moving until some later time when someone more skilled can work on it.  

The thing is we rarely make it to that later time.  We’re all treading water, hoping that the life raft arrives before we sink under… we can see it but it’s always just outside of our grasp.  We in the West are a society drowning in our own grief.  The grief of missed opportunities, lost connections, the life we thought we had before 2020, and death.  So much death and destruction. But we never stop.  We never take the time.  It all compounds.  

Before my mother passed I would say I was overwhelmed and the standard response would be “You’ve got this”, but I didn’t have it.  That’s why I was expressing that I was stretched thin.  Giving but not getting enough of what I needed back to keep going.  Then death arrived, took my plate, broke it, and replaced it with a smaller one.  I still had to fit all the things on this new smaller plate, while stepping on the grief shards that Death left littered on the floor. 

This has been my life.  Holding this little plate with tear-clouded eyes wondering where to begin and feeling exhausted, pleading to put the plate down but not having anywhere to sit it.  My problem isn’t unique to me.  It’s the Western condition, maybe it extends beyond the West but that’s the area of the world I have the most experience in so that’s where I’ll keep my focus.  We’re all holding plates and as we move through life they get smaller and smaller. 

The problem is we don’t ever stop to take shit off our plates or to build a collective plate that can hold all the various bittersweetness that life gives us.  We don’t have a society where we can all be like you know what after certain life experiences you shouldn’t have to perform for a while, you should go lay down somewhere because life is currently kicking your ass.  But we don't do that.  Instead, the deadlines stay the same.  The expectations increase because if so and so can come back after a similar experience and have their most productive quarter then you should too. 

We’re all supposed to put on this veneer and do our best to not let the cracks show.  But if we don’t rest, eventually, all we’ll be are cracks; with broken pieces of our humanity dotting the streets we roam, the office buildings we occupy, and the homes where we’re supposed to recharge but find ourselves plagued with guilt in all the ways we aren’t showing up in those quiet moments between doomscrolling and bill paying.  

What would happen if we took the time?  

The time to grieve…

The time to rest…

The time to be with the weights we carry…

Who would we be as individuals and as a collective?  What could we create if we gave ourselves the space to be with all that we carry?  As Tricia Hersey says, “Rest is a divine right. Rest is a human right.” 

Give yourself the time to rest.  The time to be with all that you hold.  Be brave enough to break away from a culture that grinds us to dust and then has the audacity to ask for more. Take the time to be wholly human. *

*I’m working on following my own advice and I welcome those who wish to enter into community together so we can collectively create ways to put down our damn plates and sit with our humanity.   

Copyright (c) 2024 Rayven Holmes

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