Work to the Bone, Rest to the Bone

Not so long ago, this happened to me. 

I had a large, looming deadline. I pushed, pushed myself. I ate little good food, got little good sleep. I was up, up, and going, going. 

The deadline came. I made it by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin. And within a day or two, I got flattened by a savage cold. 

My body took me as far as I needed to go. Then it said, No further. You must rest me. 

There was nothing to do but sleep, eat oranges and drink water, sleep more. Anything else would extend the cold's lifespan. 

Wild, frenetic work that collapses into bone-dead exhaustion. It's a discordant rhythm I've lived out across seasons, over years. 

But this exhaustion is an act of wisdom on the body's part. Work me to the bone, our bodies seem to say, then you must rest me to the bone. Since few of us are taught how to rest, our bodies force it on us with a head cold, stomach flu, both. 

My cold is gone now. I came out of it with a new decision: I will learn to rest. Take a full breath between phone calls. Look out the window before the next thing. Accept more of the help I'm offered. Listen to poppy dance music instead of intellectual news. 

And what all that adds up to is this: Thank you, body. You do right by me. I am learning to do right by you. 

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