Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

On Labor Day, I thought I would honor non-labor, non-work, non-doing — just being. And I plan to celebrate on my back.

On the first page of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins; his character calls in “well” to work. He maintains that he just feels too darn good to report for his job. That always struck me an excellent idea. Why waste a perfectly fabulous day in bed when you are feeling too poorly to enjoy it?

For years, I have maintained a Day in Bed ritual practice. There will simply come a day — never predicting which day — when I wake up knowing that today is my Day in Bed. I know with a deep knowing that if I don’t lie down, I will fall down, collapse under the strain.

I do not feel sick, mind you, just out of steam. In my mind, this is not a sick day, but rather, a Well Day, a day to devote to my own inner needs. Over time, I have learned not to fight this overwhelming laziness. I gladly give in and let go of my goals. I don’t fight it. I surrender to the decadence of self-care.

I get up long enough to make a cup of tea and bring it back to bed with me where I stay for the next 24 hours. Oh, I get up periodically to attend to bodily functions, to muster up something to eat and drink, but after each brief foray, I return to bed to spend the day blissfully quiet and alone.

I read. I nap. I write a letter or list or two. I daydream. I read. I nap.

I luxuriate in doing nothing. I imagine myself to be Elizabeth Barrett Browning or Colette or some other fabulously romantic invalid writer propped up on pillows, her devoted dog nestled in the covers at her feet. Or a privileged consumptive patient pampered in the sanitarium in Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain, eating six cream-rich meals a day and lying down to rest after each one of them.  

But of course, thank all goodness, I am not an invalid; I am not even sick. And I intend to stay that way. These short periods of respite and regeneration work remarkably well to keep me cool, centered, and balanced. And best of all, I rarely get sick.

This is not to say that I never lose my cool, center and balance. That sorry dis-ease usually happens when I feel compelled to stick to some horrendous unforgiving schedule — natural or self-imposed — where I work until I collapse. Which is, I guess, why they call it a deadline.

In too many cases, my breakdown takes the form of a fall or other accident of some kind. I literally fall apart, fall down on the job, which is my body’s undeniable way of reminding me to go to bed every once in awhile.

Last summer’s serious tumble and consequent injury brought home in no uncertain terms the importance of my Day in Bed. Had I been a bit more rested, I probably wouldn’t have fallen in the first place.

The insidious sickness of the deadline syndrome is that you delude yourself into believing that if you don’t do this thing, whatever it is, then no one can, or no one will, or you, yourself, won’t do it later. The work becomes more important than you. Sometimes, it is necessary to step back a few paces from our bustling lives, stop racing around, and just slow down so that we can absorb and process our experiences.

In a culture that defines itself in terms of clocks and dollars and duty, it is difficult to allow ourselves to claim the time and mental space to devote to an occupation that results in no visible product. Non-product, however, and nonproductive are definitely not the same thing. Down time is not negative. It is not not doing something. What we are doing when we jump off of the treadmill is resting, reflecting, ruminating, regenerating, rejoicing, and opening to the myriad ways of receiving the reassurance and guidance that we need.

And now, while Mercury is in retrograde, is the perfect time to slip out of time and go back to bed.

Happy non-labor Day!

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The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

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