“I had a dream the other night about flying and the man who was teaching me was crying. He said that fewer people were trying and the art of really flying was dying.” — Dream #2, Ken Tobias, Canadian singer and songwriter
“You’re starting to climb,” noted Freddie. “Ease up on the yoke.”
I glanced over at Freddie and raised an eyebrow.
“Steering wheel,” he amended. “Ease up on the steering wheel.”
I did as Freddie suggested and the plane levelled off. Freddie winked at me and smiled.
Freddie was a local dairy farmer — hardworking, successful and charismatic. When he worked, he worked hard. When he played, he did so behind the “yoke” of his airplane.
One day during lunch, an airplane “buzzed” our house. We ran outside and peered skyward. Later, we learned that Freddie had taken flying lessons and bought a small, single engine airplane. As kids, whenever Freddie performed a low flyby, we’d jump up and down, waving and cheering. Sometimes he would tilt the plane’s wings from side to side in acknowledgment.
One day I asked Freddie if he would take me for a ride. A couple weeks later, I was in the cockpit as we toured the countryside — viewing familiar landmarks from a new vantage point and “barnstorming” unsuspecting neighbours as they worked in hayfields and farmyards.
We flew low over my father as he walked from the barn to the house. He shook his fist at us in mock disdain as I waved frantically. On the way home, Freddie let me take the controls — if only for a few moments — and I got an inkling of the freedom and joy he derived from flying.
“We all need a break,” Freddie told me. “Time to recharge the batteries.”
A respite, a reprieve — call it what you will. We all need time to recharge and rejuvenate, to take a break from the “important” activities of our life. For Freddie, that meant flying up and away into the blue. For you it may be something completely different. It needn’t be an expensive hobby like flying – anything qualifies that replenishes your mind and body.
“We live in a culture that perpetuates the belief that when we have a lot going on . . . we’re really alive,” says Anne LeClaire, author of Listening Below the Noise: A Meditation on the Practice of Silence. “In truth, we are really alive when we can be at peace within our own skin.”
We become so busy being productive that we can fail to recognize the benefit of downtime. When we take time to rest and de-stress, we feel healthier, more energetic and alive. And yes, when we take time out to rest and rejuvenate, we actually become more productive.
Farmers like Freddie and my father would allow farmland in production mode for years to lie dormant or in fallow for a season or two before planting and harvesting it again. In this way, the land was able to restore and renew itself. Says LeClaire, it’s the same with us. “There’s a reason why we have sabbaticals, and it’s exactly that — to fill up again, to restore.” Despite our best intentions, life demands that we stay connected and remain productive. This perpetual drive and endless striving leaves many of us drained emotionally, spiritually and physically. If we actually placed value on our downtime, how would our lives change?
Perhaps part of the issues lies in a lack of understanding around rest and rejuvenation. Some people think resting is taking time off to do all the chores that have piled up while we were busy with work and life. I know of one gentleman who considers downtime taking a week off work but performing the same business tasks from the “sanctitude” of his home office.
True relaxation allows the body to heal and rejuvenate.
Medical research confirms that taking a break and recharging the batteries produces anti-oxidation and anti-inflammatory changes in the body that reduce stress and lowers heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen consumption with a notable lessening of hypertension, insomnia, depression and anxiety.
The mental and emotional benefits of recharging are profound. “When you slow down and get quiet, you can actually begin to hear your own wisdom, your inner knowledge,” says LeClaire. “Rest and its sibling, relaxation, allow us to reconnect with the world in and around us.”
Take a few moments now to reflect on a time when you managed to free yourself from the endless cycle of work and daily stress. How did it feel to be released from what some have called the tug of time? Imagine how different life would be if you could always feel this way.
As we grow our self-esteem and self-awareness, we realize that empowered living requires rest and rejuvenation — to nip stress in the bud before it becomes ingrained in our life.
After our flight, I told Freddie I didn’t care what people said about his airplane.
“Really,” responded Freddie. “What do people say?”
“Well,” I said, “that you’ve got more money than brains.”
Freddie stared at me for a moment and then laughed heartily.
Maybe that’s part of the secret to be at peace within our own skin – to not be overly concerned about what others might think or say about your choices. I’m sure Freddie, if he were here today, would agree. That and buzzing the neighbours whenever possible.
Murray Fuhrer is a local self-esteem expert and facilitator. His new book is entitled Extreme Esteem: The Four Factors. For more information on self-esteem, check the Extreme Esteem website at www.extremeesteem.ca