So much of work is about action. In America, we are taught that if you are not moving forward, you are moving backward. That if you are standing still you're falling behind.
We're taught to be constantly striving. We work more hours and we take less vacation. We caffeinate in the morning and drink alcohol at night. We pop pills to keep ourselves energized, or to bring ourselves down. When we exercise it's a competition rather than a chance to recharge. When we let ourselves take a vacation, we bring our blackberries and laptops, and our agendas are packed. We stop only when sick, and even then, we try to push through. We can sleep when we're dead, right?
But the rest of life doesn't work that way. The rest of life follows patterns of activity and rest, of light and dark, of wet and dry. And we miss it all. We miss the autumn leaves and the spring flowers. We miss the waxing and waning of the moon. We miss the sunrise and the sunset. We miss the tides and the waves and the simple rhythm of our own breathing.
But most of all we miss the damage that we are doing to ourselves because we know of no other way.
Take some time to breathe, to rest, to heal. The next few weeks are when a lot of people go away. If you go, leave the electronic leash behind if you can. Take a true break. And if you are not going away, try dialing it back a bit in the office. You might actually get more done. At least more that is important.
P.S. After I wrote this, a reader sent a link to a blog with a broader take on this topic and its long term implications--see it here. And thanks!