Inner Space
Hi, I’m Diana Demco and this is the Inner Space newsletter about my reflections on living an examined life. If you're new, you can find old editions here. You're getting this email because you signed up on my website. If you'd like to unsubscribe, click here.
In a world obsessed with doing more, it can be hard to know when to stop. Taking a break or having an extended rest period seems only valuable insofar as it allows you to work even harder when you return to your daily routines. Rest is often a reward for hard work, and if "hard work" hasn't happened, we feel we don't deserve a moment of downtime.

Activity and rest are two vital aspects of life. To find a balance in them is a skill in itself. Wisdom is knowing when to have rest, when to have activity, and how much of each to have. Finding them in each other - activity in rest and rest in activity - is the ultimate freedom. (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)

When to do lists seem to grow by their own accord and we're bombarded from all directions with advice on how to hack your sleep (so you can work more), create the perfect productivity system (so you can work more) or leverage the might of AI (to, you've guessed it, work more), then we can forget rest is a valid component of a prolific career (or life).

Sure, advice on recognizing burnout is more popular now than it was 10 years ago and we may know that laziness usually disguises deeper psychological problems, but it still doesn't come easy to take a break longer than a lunch, when there's so much you could be doing instead.

We live in a strange world of contradictions. Although we seek relaxation through parties, vacations or hobbies - after all, we tell ourselves, that's why we put in the long hours - we also resist it, justifying that by setting ever receding goal posts for when we can "truly" relax. Think: increases in salary, getting a promotion, finishing an assignment.

I could say that taking a long break from a project will actually benefit it, giving you fresher perspectives and a new wave of creativity, but we'd still be in the same rationale: rest so you can work better afterwards. We need to reframe rest as something inherent to being human, detaching it from a clear purpose or conditions.

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. (John Lubbock)

Being able to tell rest from avoidance, procrastination or laziness is crucial if we want to fully enjoy its benefits. The only way to do that is by being honest with yourself. Most of us know if we're taking a day off because we're (mentally) exhausted or because we are procrastinating.

In short, we can reframe rest by:
  • detaching it from a goal
  • liberating it from conditions
  • allowing it to take any form
  • savoring it
  • seeing it as a "right"

Timeless Content

Living Life As Inquiry
Kyle Kowalski (Sloww) | 5 minute read
The ethos of living an examined life is to approach life as inquiry, to never settle for "the given" and probe every aspect of it carefully. If you'd like to deepen your understanding and practice of living life as inquiry, this post by Sloww creator Kyle Kowalski lays out the 10 aspects to consider when embarking on a journey of discovery and questioning. Expect a lucid and rational manner of delivery.

Picture of the Week

Quote I'm Reflecting On

Philosopher Henry David Thoreau on simple productivity:

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail.

Source: Walden

Questions For You To Ponder

What is your relationship with rest? Is it tied to your productivity?
Thank you for reading.

Until next time,
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