I love the holidays. I love how I get a chance to think, to contemplate, to sleep, to read, to write. The last few months have been a whirlwind and this time last week I was weary. Down to my toes and in my soul weary. To any of my readers who don’t know: I’m a teacher. I live my life in super-intensive 12-14 week blocks and then supposedly rest and recuperate in the few weeks in between each term before jumping back on the school train and starting all over again. Except that my own children don’t seem to have got the memo that the school breaks are supposed to be about me resting a bit, but that’s what I’m going to talk about here….
One of the things I’ve done over the Christmas break is, of course, to read. And in one of the books I read was a quote that has been playing itself on repeat in my head went something like this:
“I slept and dreamt that life was beauty,
I woke and saw that life is duty.”
This has got me to thinking about life….
I’m always complaining to myself in my inner monologue that I never get any peace; that somebody always wants a piece of me – whether it be the kids, work, the dog, the laundry, my partner, my projects, my family, my friends, and I’m always inwardly whinging about how much stuff I’ve got to do,”I just wanna sit down and read/have a massage/go for a swim/nap!” I moan. Well, as you can imagine, I am seriously beginning to get on my own nerves. Because I know that if I were to suddenly have nothing to do and hours of “free time”, I would be miserable! Why? Well, I think it’s because part of the human condition is to be busy.
In the past, when I’ve been blue or bored or when I have those rare few minutes to myself, I have immediately found myself something to do. Sewing, swimming, yoga, writing, reading, clearing out cupboards, gardening, walking, shopping, researching are just a few of the things I have had a go at. To the point where I have annoyed myself further because my so-called “fun projects” have become something else that I have to do! Gah!! But when I read that quote, something clicked in my brain – I realised that I wouldn’t be happy if I had nothing to do.
The quote which inspired the one above was written by an American lady called Ellen Sturgis Hooper and actually goes like this:
I slept, and dreamed that life was beauty;
I woke, and found that life was duty.
Was thy dream then a shadowy lie?
Toil on, sad heart, courageously,
And thou shall find thy dream to be
A noonday light and truth to thee.’
I also found this very similar quote by a dude called Rabindranath Tagore:
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold,
Service was joy.”
In other words, duty = beauty. Obviously I’m not the first human on the planet to have this mind-blowing revelation, but it’s still been a happy little mind-blow for me. Better late to the party than to not arrive at all.
So, while I can’t promise that my inner monologue will always be singing the praises of my busy load while I struggle to juggle the many, many things on my to-do list, I can say that I am going to try to appreciate more the fact that I have got so many amazing things in my life which are keeping my to-do list so full.