Several weeks ago, I learned that the pain I was feeling in my hands was a form of tendonitis. A hand therapist informed me that rest, along with a bit of light massage, would be the most effective treatment.
The news wasn’t a complete surprise. I had recently picked up my guitar after many years and playing music on top of daily writing, editing, emailing, blogging and tweeting set my hands and fingers working overtime. But the prescription for rest didn’t sit well with me, especially with so many writing deadlines and the joy that I’ve rediscovered in strumming and plucking those strings.
But it was necessary. I took a short break from my guitar and my hands felt better. Much better. I also took a short break from writing this blog, which not only gave my tendons a time out, but reminded me about the value of letting work rest, too. I usually have several blog topics spinning around in my head and I like to post several times a week. But I was reminded that there is value in allowing ideas to breathe. I noticed which ideas vied more strongly for my attention and bubbled to the surface. When it surfaced, allowing the air to get to it, the subject became more layered, more complex. The resting allowed the time for the contrasts to come through like the light spaces surrounding the vibrant color in an abstract painting and the pauses and the breaths between folk verses.
We don’t always have the luxury to slow down our production schedules. But this un-asked-for downtime got me thinking about rest as a restorative tool in our work and art-making lives. Clearly I’d been doing too much with my hands and I needed the reminding.
I think we’d all rather choose the slow down moment than it choosing us.