I have to admit: I'm a bit off balance these days. Even if my questions have answers, I'm not sure whether I know how to find their answers or if I would even recognize the answers if I found them.
Is there something intrinsically virtuous about a regular schedule? Is my early-bed-and-early-to-rise philosophy supported by any sensible evidence? Perhaps I should follow Chesterton's suggestion by lying in bed and painting on the ceiling with a broom at precisely the times my society tells me I shouldn't:
If life's a jigsaw puzzle, it seems like just when I find a group of pieces to form a coherent image, those same pieces don't quite fit together. But life isn't a jigsaw puzzle. A puzzle has a fixed solution: we know when we've done right because the pieces fit together nicely. But why should we assume that our arbitrary understanding of "fitting together nicely" should reveal any patterns in our life? In other words, there's no reason that life as we know it should or should not "fit together nicely."
On the contrary, if we admit that we truly have no control over the outcomes of our actions, we would expect to see the opposite. To paraphrase the satirical wisdom of Ecclesiastes, the only wise thing to do in life is to eat, drink, and be merry since we can't do anything to control the grand arc of our vain existence. I call this wisdom "satirical" because it shows the logical conclusion of believing you live in a meaningless, unordered universe.
There's something within me that prefers easily understandable order. There's another something within me, equally powerful but infinitely more harmful, that fears what I perceive as "chaos." For example, I spent the summer working on experiments, training wonderful people, exploring the world, and, just this weekend, moving to a new home. All of those experiences have measurably changed my life for the better. But at the same time, I don't feel better because of them. Mostly, I feel tired.
I use that fatigue to excuse my silence on this blog. I use it to explain to myself why I'm not standing up and dancing on tables out of pure jubilation for all the good that's occurred over the past few months. It turns out that when it comes to physical and mental fatigue, our bodies don't distinguish between positive stressors (like meeting new friends or enjoying a new, beautiful house) and negative stressors (like failed experiments and sleepless nights).
Remember that from the beginning, God pushed out the chaos by creating order. He called everything he made, "good." That includes all the stressors of productivity that constantly tempt us with their false offers of contentment for the price of our peace and sanity. God also demonstrated how to combat the temptation to see these good life events as negatives!
Travel is good. Learning is good. Friends and family are good. Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are good. Moving is good. Cleaning is good. Studying is good. Running marathons is good. Finishing projects is good. Movies are good. Cooking is good. Productivity is good. For most of us, everything we do in a day is good. But how do we actually enjoy those good things? How do we stop falling for the lies that tell us that major life changes should cause stress and distress in our hearts?
I hypothesize that we can only enjoy these things within a context of regular and deep rest. The last day of creation was dedicated to the gift that allows us to enjoy the other gifts we receive on the other six days. In fact, it's the days of rest that foreshadow our days of eternal rest that will enable us to enjoy the gifts we received during this first but fleeting experience we call life.
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