It has been nearly a year now since Tom and I left our jobs to travel. It has been a whirlwind of an adventure that has included 14 countries, 2 continents, and 3 broken Apple products.
And here I sit on a fairly secluded beach on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. One friend described this spot as a slice of paradise, but I have to disagree.
I mean, if spending all day laying in a hammock, cooling off in the turquoise-blue ocean, and sipping mojitos is paradise, then yes, this is the place. But if paradise is supposed to be our ideal existence, something we can live out and enjoy eternally, then a place of total rest just won't do.
Now, don't get me wrong. Rest is good. It feels good, but I would venture to say that it is actually impossible to enjoy rest, maybe even impossible to have any rest at all without actually having work.
As I swung in my hammock and watched the orange sun disappearing into the Caribbean the other evening, I couldn't help but notice that I felt a bit agitated. And I realized something about myself: I never feel more restless than when I have no work.
Just as there is no darkness without light, no shore without water, and no weekend without a week, I don't believe rest can even exist without work.
Now, I'm not implying that work or rest are either good or bad, or that one is better than the other. They both simply are and they both are necessary. And before you jump to that next conclusion, let me clarify that I don't even think work is a "necessary evil." It is simply "necessary." It's a part of who we are and who we were created to be.
Many believe that work was God's curse to Adam for sinning. But have you noticed that Adam worked before he ever sinned? God's curse wasn't for Adam to work. It was for Adam's work to become difficult or hard. The curse wasn't the work itself, it was the "sweat of his brow" that he then got as a result of his work.
Now when I first sat down to write this, I thought to myself...you don't need to write about work. Most people reading this blog are Americans and American's don't have issues working, they have issues resting. We are notorious for working too much.
But then I thought, perhaps our obsession with work comes from over-idealization of rest. We work harder and longer in hopes of obtaining a life of no work, either through retirement or a life of independent wealth. We strive to make more in hopes that some day we will no longer need to strive at all.
Don't get me wrong. Rest feels great. But a life of no work and all rest, is not as ideal as one might imagine. It can actually be pretty boring. And even worse than boring, it can be incredibly unsatisfying.
I believe we were created to create, to bring order from chaos, to produce, to help others, and to improve our world. In short, we were made to work. Living to avoid this will lead to a less-than-full life.
Now, work doesn't necessarily have to be a "job." It doesn't even have to earn money. For me this past year, work has been writing this blog, learning Spanish, and other self-study. It wasn't till this past month when we broke our computer with a piece of chocolate (most expensive damn piece of chocolate I've ever had), that I put away the computer and decided to simply rest.
Ironically, I found that with no work, I found absolutely no rest.
So rather than viewing work as a means to obtain a life of total rest, why not view work as an ongoing part of life itself and rest as temporary reprieves along the way? I think what you will find is a more balanced life in which you can enjoy the integration of both work and rest, and subsequently, both the office chair and the hammock will feel a little softer under your bum.
I'm Jaime. My husband is Tom. Suburbanites, backpackers, and expats...we've been them all!