I grew up in a family where people worked a lot. My father was notoriously ‘married to his job’. By the age of 35, he was the CEO of an office real estate company. He then went on from real estate asset management to independent development and consulting roles. When I met with him, he would often say ‘things are hectic these days – it never stops’. After a while, I started joking: ‘you said the same thing last time. Things are just perpetually hectic for you.’
I like having a productive life. I like juggling activities. I like seeing people. But I don’t think it’s a healthy or a desirable model to place myself on the trade mill. Today, I posted on Facebook about an event I’m running on August 27. A friend from Paris wrote in the comments ‘You never stop!’ – ‘Quite the opposite,’ I replied, ‘I stop often. I certainly wouldn’t be able to do all this if I never took a moment to breathe’.
Over the last year, I’ve started practicing Qi Gong on a regular basis. Before that, I’ve done a number of activities that involve breathing – mainly classical singing. Relaxing is an essential part of those. Breathing is a movement in an out. You can’t hold the air in forever. The same applies to singing. You can’t hold the musical line forever. You need to stop, breathe, and start again. It’s a soothing practice, and a great source of wisdom.
Arianna Huffington ironically invited women to ‘sleep their way to the top, literally’. Rest more. Save energy. But in a society that values efforts more than results, celebrates the ever-busy, and looks on the calm with suspicion, it is a hard line to keep.