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Lyrics and Life

By Caitlin Ward

04/05/2017

 

I’m Only Sleeping
The Beatles

When I wake up early in the morning
Lift my head, I’m still yawning
When I’m in the middle of a dream
Stay in bed, float up stream (Float up stream)

Please, don’t wake me, no, don’t shake me
Leave me where I am, I’m only sleeping

Everybody seems to think I’m lazy
I don’t mind, I think they’re crazy
Running everywhere at such a speed
Till they find there’s no need (There’s no need)

Please, don’t spoil my day, I’m miles away
And after all I’m only sleeping

Keeping an eye on the world going by my window
Taking my time
Lying there and staring at the ceiling
Waiting for a sleepy feeling...

Please, don’t spoil my day, I’m miles away
And after all I’m only sleeping

Keeping an eye on the world going by my window
Taking my time

When I wake up early in the morning
Lift my head, I’m still yawning
When I’m in the middle of a dream
Stay in bed, float up stream (Float up stream)

Please, don’t wake me, no, don’t shake me
Leave me where I am, I’m only sleeping

Today I told my officemate he had to take some time off. He’s worked a lot of overtime in the last month, and even though he swears he feels fine, it’s obvious to me he’s exhausted. Well, actually, I didn’t tell him he had to take some time off. While he was at a meeting I scheduled a day and a half off for him and said it was non-negotiable. There was a small and mostly convivial argument on the subject when he saw it in the calendar, but I put my foot down and he acquiesced to my authority in due course. Now, I don’t really have the authority to make him take time off, but he doesn’t seem to realize it. Let’s keep that last part between you and me, though, shall we?

I know that may read as pretty paternalistic in its way, and I probably come off a bit authoritarian, too. Generally speaking, I’m not particularly authoritarian at work. That said, I am cognizant of how easy it is to invest too much time and effort into a job, and how one’s well-being and work can suffer as a result. I know this because I have been quite bad for it in the past, emerging from the school year emotionally and physically exhausted and sometimes pretty hateful as a result. I do not want this for my officemate. My officemate is also my friend, you see, and I don’t want him to be exhausted and hateful as I have been in years past. He needs rest. I need rest. We all need rest, sometimes.

I’ve been thinking about rest as we approach Easter. Easter doesn’t have quite the same secular profile that Christmas does. At the end of December we let go of some of our regular obligations for a few days and pay closer attention to our faith. We are not afforded the same luxury at Easter. Though it is the holiest of seasons for us, there isn’t much space to breathe and live in these moments outside the Triduum itself. The rest of life doesn’t stop in quite the same way.

That being said, I don’t know if the Christmas season affords us that much more time to contemplate and live in these moments, either. There’s time off from work for many of us (though not all), but the time off can easily be consumed with family obligations, Christmas preparations, and meeting with friends who have returned from away. These things can be good, certainly, but they are not restful. And the funny thing is, a lot of it is ritual that we have constructed around Christmas, rather than having much to do with the holy day itself. We make work for ourselves in places where there once wasn’t meant to be work. We make ourselves busy.

I’ve been thinking about the Book of Genesis, and the wisdom of the Israelites: “. . . so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” Because of Easter, of course, we Catholics instead rest on the first day of the week, rather than the last. And for some, the day itself cannot always be a day of rest. Rest is meant to be part of our faith as much as anything else.

And yet, here we are living in a society that is obsessed with being busy. It begins to feel as if we in North America must have something against resting. Not everyone can take space to rest, I know, but even those who can take space tend not to do so. There’s probably something about prestige with it — our importance is in part determined by just how much is our responsibility — but there’s more to it, too. There’s a certain kind of capitalist obsession with being productive. There’s a certain kind of work ethic that finds virtue in the act of doing work as much as it finds virtue in what is accomplished. There’s this idea that anything less than perfection is by definition not good enough, and so we must work tirelessly until things are flawless.

I don’t mean to characterize any of these as personal failings. Each one carries a weight of social expectation that affects all of us to varying degrees, and in some cases having so much to do is not a choice, but simply the reality of one’s life. Some types of work actually never do end; sometimes there is too much to do.

It’s hard not to think of all of these reasons as symptoms of a rather unhealthy society, though, and I do wonder why we have allowed it to develop this way. I’m not entirely sure what we’ve gained by it. But I’m also not sure how it stops.

Ward is a Saskatoon-based freelance writer who spends her days (and most nights) working at a small Catholic college. Her less eloquent thoughts can be found at www.twitter.com/newsetofstrings