"There is no rest for the weary." That's a longtime truth that I am frequently reminded of these days. Here's a related line: "The hurrieder I go, the behind-er I get."
Why are we more tired? Or shall I ask, "Why am I so tired?" Because daily schedules are filled to the max. Too often it's due to doing the unnecessary or trying to impress others who we don't really care much about. There's also the constant pull of social media and numerous technological wonders, each competing for time and attention.
Working for a living, growing businesses and chasing dreams is a good thing. Piling on endless appointments and "make-a-nice-impression-appearances" is another. Too much on the daily to-do list leads to fatigue and less effectiveness in all things.
Trust me on this topic.
I'm the worst offender when it comes to over-scheduling myself. And I can rationalize better than anyone about why I must attempt to do everything, preferably if I can find a seemingly noble excuse for doing it.
I have been immersed in this sleep-deprivation issue. After all, I thought I simply had to handle many self-created deadlines and projects. So much to do, so little time.
Yesterday, I gave myself kudos for carving a few minutes out of my schedule to do something I rarely do: Nothing. I decided I could benefit from a half-hour nap.
I'm not a napper, as a rule. Sometimes Mr. Sandman arrives while I'm on the couch, watching evening TV while reading and multitasking, when suddenly I lean back and presto, it's major league ZZZZZZZ's.
Those moments provide the stuff of family lore. When my daughter is in town she has great fun snapping pictures of Dad, zonked out, mouth open and ready to catch flies. Thank goodness threats of, "If you want to stay in the Will, I better not see that on Facebook" still work.
Anyway, I digress… back to my nap plan. I assessed the schedule for the coming days and knew that without a little snooze I would be in bad shape.
It was off to my home "man cave" on a beautiful spring-like day.
I opened a window to enjoy the warm breeze and closed my eyes while trying to mentally condition myself to "sleep fast."
Then it happened again, as usual. Just at the moment of bliss, on the edge of slumberland, a buzz saw from next door revved up. My neighbor decided it was a perfect time to catch up on his schedule. Apparently the tool du jour was some sort of loud device that was used as a soundtrack from a dental horror movie. So much for a snooze.
My good friend next door is like that. I'll call him Ray (since that's his name). Ray is a MacGyver character who can make all sorts of valuable things out of what seems to be nothing. Give him a fragment of wire and he can mold it into a refrigerator. He's always building something, and is a champion recycler of other people's supposedly useless "stuff."
He is also "retired." I have never heard as much unusual tool noise coming out of one place, and he's more active than ever since he quit going to the plant every day. Good for him.
Adding more pressure
Of course my neighbor who does heroic at-home projects can make me feel like I should add even more to-dos to my schedule. My idea of a domestic fix-up project is to call 411 and find someone who knows what they're doing. I can't keep up with the kinds of things Ray does well. It's just not my gift.
But it's an illustration of why Americans are overloaded and more tired than ever. We have so many pressures, keeping up with the Joneses (or Rays), taking the kids to one more after-school activity or attending just one extra reception to look good in business or community. It seems it's never possible to catch up on rest.
Lessons on time
The more life goes on, the more I find that I am learning a valuable lesson on the use of time, and the importance of priorities. A little introspective thinking helps sort things out too. But nothing works better than giving ourselves the gift of strategically placed rest.
Just now I was feeling a fresh sense of accomplishment, sitting here in a chair by our pool. Sensing contentment as I wrap up writing this column, once again I've learned something important about living.
I sit back, close my eyes, smiling, as I begin to succumb to the nap urge—only to be interrupted by Ray, starting up his power mower.
Bless his heart.
Mark Larson is a veteran Southern California radio/television personality and media consultant. His voice is heard on KPRZ 1210AM, and his weekday talkshow airs 6-9 a.m. on KCBQ 1170AM. Learn more at www.marklarson.com.