I have had a difficult but satisfying week at work; we met a big challenge and achieved a major objective. This was in France so I spent the week in a hotel while eating restaurant food. This is not how I like to spend my time but it needed to be done. When I was younger I would have jumped at the chance to stay in hotels and eat in restaurants, but no longer. I value my own bed and the food of my own efforts. Above all else I value the peace and quiet of home.
This weekend has been about rest. Yesterday I did not leave the house at all. I relaxed with good food and wine, books, and modest perusal of the interwebs. Today I left the house for a short time, but now I am back and I have no plans to go out for the rest of the day. It is cold and wet, just the perfect kind of day for remaining indoors. I have a chicken in the oven and an excellent bottle of Italian red on the table.
This is all because I know that I need to recuperate and recharge. Going out is not recharging as that takes effort and any expended effort is a little bit more out of the battery. But above all else I have been sleeping. A good solid eight hours each night and that is because sleep is important.
Don’t get romantically involved with someone who wants to stay up until 2 A.M., whether it’s watching Netflix or partying.
Don’t sign up for the 5 A.M. CrossFit class (unless—big maybe—you’re a natural early riser anyway).
Don’t relax with late night T.V. after a long day.
This isn’t easy. It’s not. It’s harder for people coming up now than it was for me. I didn’t have digital devices vying for my every waking moment or corporations whose expressly stated purpose was to compete with your sleep. That sucks, but it’s also reality, so you have to make it a huge priority—the biggest in your life.
The older you get, the more precious sleep gets. Your cognitive function, your memory, your physical preparedness, your metabolic health, your mental state, your emotional resiliency—everything depends on you getting a good night’s sleep. When you’re young, you believe you can skip sleep and feel okay. Don’t believe it. The damage is accumulating.
I have long been a big proponent of sleep. I need eight hours a night. If I don’t get that then I will feel it and the negative aspects accumulate quickly. Sleep and proper recharging of the system are critical if you want to go the long distance in relatively good condition. You might think that you don’t need eight hours sleep, but you do. I know people who have sworn to me for over twenty years that they only need five hours sleep a night. Today that overuse of the system is obvious in their lined and haggard faces and their general poor physical condition.
I have had relationships in the past where the woman in question wants to go out partying all night. My approach is to say go for your life, but I’m off to bed. I’ve also had to educate women on how to spend a day on the couch. They always want to be doing something, as if in the doing they are meeting some achievement. But activity does not equal productivity, and anyway, who wants to be productive all the time? Not me, I can’t. I know my limits.
Sickness is a sign that you are misaligned, that you’re doing things wrong. I had a big health scare early on in life and I believe that it helped me. Since then I keep an eye on myself. I rarely overdo it. I enjoy myself but without going overboard. And besides, exaggerating is a big sign that you feel the need to make up for some sort of personal inadequacy. Sleep, rest, relaxation and contemplation are essential if you intend to go on for as long as you are able. I work very hard indeed, but I balance it with this attitude.
A colleague rang me on Friday evening and wanted to know if I would like to go sailing the next day as the winds were forecast to be quite strong. I had no hesitation in politely declining and I told him why in a straightforward manner; after the week I had had what was needed was a weekend on the couch. Knowing your limits and sticking to them will add up for you in the long run. This weekend has not been about what is referred to as free time. It is rest time. You would be wise to make time for it.