Rest Rabbit Rest
When my mother would tuck me in at night she liked to read me a story called “Rest Rabbit Rest”, a book about a busy bunny going from one place to another always running out of time with the nagging feeling of always being late for all his Bunnily duties. Her refrain for me, her last words before telling me goodnight were almost always “Rest Rabbit Rest”. I wriggled under the covers, squirming my feet out of my stirrup stretch pants. I wanted nothing more than to burst out of the bed, then the house, then the town- into the forest where I could delight in what adventure and friends awaited me. Usually I’d sneak out of my room after 10pm and watch “In Living Color” with my parents from the hallway. After I’d been chastised to go back to my room and I’d stay there writing songs for my cats or playing an elaborately complex game I’d created with my stuffed animals about a hotel.
I was deeply resentful, resisting and repressed by these simple words my mother would tell me in her sweet voice. Every atom in me reacted by splitting and dividing and expanding. My mother’s words should have been a salve for my soul but I resisted them for the next 30 years, resolute on doing and becoming and being the most me I could possibly be. I hummed along like this through various illnesses and signs that I should slow down, until I contracted Coronavirus for a second time recently. Far from home and my father’s smuggled steroids, roiling with a 103.5 fever, unable to feel my body except for vague burning sensations I waited to see what would happen. My partner in crime took care of me completely. I took vitamin D and C religiously and slowly slowly I got better. In the aftermath, the restoration, I hear my mother’s words on a loop: “Rest… Rest, Rabbit… Rest”.
I’ve been guilty in the past of projecting my own life lessons and journey onto the whole of humanity- stating unequivocally what’s right for me is what’s right for you. I’m not going to do that here, but I am going to argue that perhaps resting is the only way we will get through the eye of the needle and ensure humanity’s future existence. If this virus could speak, what it would say is: Stop. Whatever it is you are doing, just stop. There is nothing that is going to stop me until you all start to understand what the inside life feels like”.
Not sure what to do with that information the first time I had it I simply took a break and then kept going on similar to the rest of humanity. My ego was still driving my work, I was still taking on too much responsibility, operating in much the same way before the pandemic. Until a spiritual encounter catalyzed me into a new pattern. Without knowing it, I needed a rest and reformation after this experience.
Let’s speak a little about rest- if not catalyzed by disease, how do we practice it consciously? What does it feel like and look like? These are some simple characteristics I’ve observed from this time my soulfully guided rest.
- Rest can be a beautiful consecration of all that has happened. Digestion of past events and a grounding into reality those experiences and lessons.
- True rest reinforces healthy boundaries and and creates a clear container for you to process your life.
- It can facilitate a meaningful look at your and important others’ human limitations. I used to experience restfulness as repression but now I see we are all infinitely limited in our scope on this grand earth. Cut yourself some slack and your partners also.
- Past traumas can surface or re-surface. Rest allows us to stay with these experiences through somatic processing or lived experiencing through art (music, movies, books).
- Your patterns of intense escape are activated. Suddenly you are drinking a lot of alcohol, or researching ways to move to Arkansas, obsessing about your future tiny house, or writing pornographic fanfiction about celebrities no one wants to read (these are all tried and personally fleshed out escape routes: too bad you end up feeling worse!). You will do or think anything just to escape from what is really unfolding. I’ve seen through this process your response can be far from perfect- just rest as soberly as you can for as long as you can even if it’s a few minutes. The work is happening without you doing much of anything.
- It’s boring as hell. And you let it be boring. Delight in the boredom.
- Your sense of obligation falls away and what becomes more clear is your purpose.
- Your soul longs for you to live in a more ancient rhythm before modern society was developed. Time doesn’t really exist but if your soul was in charge the world would be vastly transformed into a milder, more docile, less driven by external growth crystalline blue planet.
- Rest leads to inner fortitude because it finally pays your inner thoughts, feelings, desires heed.
- You are allowed to follow and process your nighttime dreams.
I posit that even all of the green technology, the re-wilding, the carbon capturing and shifting from reliance on fossil fuels and coal won’t get us to where we need to go if we don’t become a more restful species. If we simply did less, needed less, stopped placing a disproportionate value on external progress we might just survive. What happens with humans who have time to start appreciating their lives? To see what’s right in front of them? That’s how the whole world will shift, if we let it. Potentially we might be seeing this through the jobs crisis in the U.S.- people are realizing that time spent with loved ones, by themselves, doing something they love or in nature is far more important than their unfulfilling jobs. I know many people feel they aren’t allowed to rest because of life circumstances- just one of the many reasons why society should re-orient to restfulness. In the future viruses and climate change will disrupt our lives so on such a deep level there will be no choice left. Those of us who are left on the planet will turn inward and stop by necessity. A bleak and terrifying world will subdue us. As an American I cringe at these words; this will mark a profound shift in consciousness where we not only realize our limitations,we will accept them as a way through into becoming part of the whole of creation. When all the doing and acting doesn’t seem to be saving our asses (example: vaccines that wane in efficacy against a constantly mutating virus), most of us will assuredly be resistant and may burn ourselves alive in a kind of planet wide fever. It might be easier to stop now and listen to the nature of ourselves. Again it doesn’t need to be perfect-only inching one or two layers closer to your authentic voice is enough. The rest will come like an avalanche. As long as the process of real rest is established our voices will come from a deeper place inside us without a need to project.
What does this look like practically? What are the fruits of a more restful society? To be honest I’m not sure on the details, but I can prophesier into a broad version of reality at the moment.
- A 20–30 hour work week for everyone.
- Scaling back what we consume and what we throw away.
- Encouragement to grow our own food.
- Placing emphasis on properly boundaried relationships.- knowing what your responsibilities are without taking on too much of other people’s struggles, or the opposite-learning to take responsibility for your actions thoughts and desires.
- A more robust and efficient social safety net. One that actually works through a simplification process. No more third party companies (ahem insurance companies) vampiring off our health care industry or other systems. Elimination of programs that are no longer necessary.
- More national holidays.
- Encouragement to travel short distances instead of long.
- Reconstitution of a family structure with proper boundaries without needing vast distances between us.
- Paid for mental health for every citizen.
Note: I’m not suggesting a familiar system or structure like socialism or capitalism (which I’m partial towards). This would require such a radical inward shift, which I think we’ll go through because of the impending hammers to come down, that our society will look radically different and it won’t be because rapidly expanding technology. In the U.S. our system will probably look similar, just taken down a few notches, more muted and working within the whole of our ecosystem. Human desire to become and act will still exist but will be born from a less ego-drive place. You’ll act from the still small voice, not the loud one who tells you what to do for fear of loss of love. After a significant period of being stymied and rest this loud voice will find it’s place among the chorus. We will redefine what we can become, taking into account the constraints of our time and place in history. Only after everyone (or mostly everyone, again doesn’t need to be perfect!) turns inward in true rest can we more naturally be part of our communities again. This fake break didn’t cut it and we’ll unfortunately be seeing that play out in the future. This mirrors the micro-process we all went through during the pandemic. We joined our little tribes during the pandemic, unable to reconcile who we were before with who we are now. So we sought comfort in those who were ideologically similar. Not yet ready to rejoin our greater self and society we are still in the inward turning percolating space. There will come a time when we can connect physically with those outside of our safe circles again but for now the time is for Rest, Rabbit, Rest.