How to Relax

Just felt like reminding everyone how beautiful Nyenbo Yurtse is.

Just felt like reminding everyone how beautiful Nyenbo Yurtse is.

Nothing special; hopefully, more inspired posts to arrive soon.

Whenever I talk to my adopted brother back on the plateau, he urges me to work less and relax more.

“Don’t worry about me,” he says. “I’m very good at relaxing. But you are always worrying about us. You must stop worrying, work less, and relax a bit more.”

Until recently, I waved off his admonitions as well-meaning wishes that didn’t carry much weight or import in my reality. I work intensively, and focus completely on whatever I have to do until it is done. As such, regardless of his insistence on my relaxation, I would work when I worked; I would take time to relax when the job was done. I worked (and continue to work) in a manner of high productivity so that when I relaxed I could take full advantage of my time.

But recently, I’ve realized that I’ve been looking at my work-relaxation ideas from a strange angle. I seem to work harder at work in order to allow myself to ‘relax harder’ – or at least relax in a more structured, organized, intensive way – when I have the time. I’ve been working in such a way to optimize my relaxation time, when really, if I listen to my adopted brother, I should be thinking less about optimization and more about how my relaxation results in ultimate happiness.

I am not full of stress. While I occasionally have worked a lot (especially while abroad), I have never forgone the things I need to stay sane (read: sufficient time active and outdoors). However, I’ve been going about my life with more of a “how-do-I-squeeze-the-most-out-of-this” mindset – a worldview which marks me as a true American – than I had ever known. What my adopted brother was telling me was not to simply work less and relax more, but to change the way I looked at my life, change the way I allocated my energies, change the way I thought about what was important to me. Life was not about maximization, he was saying – it is instead about joy, harmony, serenity, peace, happiness.

Now that I’ve succeeded in making myself sound like a dharma-bunny neo hippy of sorts, let me propose (a la Tocqueville) that [non-Portland, OR] America is a land where this doctrine is more foreign than the wedding customs of Tajikistan. We are so tightly wound on a daily basis that we fail to even think about what enjoyment we are getting out of any given moment; we fail to think about our own relaxation and life, and instead think about maximization: what we can make larger, grander, more-er {what an American word!) out of every moment. I’m not arguing that our work is not a large part of who we are; I am only able to do work in which I believe, and am of the sort to wholeheartedly dedicate myself to causes/ideas/purposes which come my way (or simply sound nice at the time). However, as we work towards a goal which, in some cases, can be seen as larger than ourselves, we must not lose sight of ourselves as people – as individuals with our own needs, desires, hopes, dreams.

Now that I’ve vomited randomness onto the page, I’ll be off to do some reading and then go to bed. If my brother were here, he’d probably urge me to do the same. “You’re working too hard!” he’d say. “You need to relax more. Don’t worry, and relax: that will make you happy.”

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