“The entire world is shifting / And I’m standing nonetheless,” I hummed to the music “The World Spins Madly On” by The Weepies as I lay sickly on my mattress, resonating with the lyrics a bit greater than I might anticipate.
For that entire week, I used to be experiencing complications, runny nostril, and fatigue; but I informed myself that I used to be solely being dramatic. Think about making an attempt to mislead your personal physique. My physique was demanding for relaxation and I used to be forcing myself to work. Solely after I turned so sick that I couldn’t depart my mattress did I take the time to mirror and ask: Why was it so arduous for me to just accept the truth that I’m sick? Why was I so insistent on doing the identical quantity of labor my wholesome classmates are doing? What’s with the disgrace round not doing work and resting?
The solutions to those questions revolutionized my considering. Our campus, our tradition and our world too usually affiliate a scarcity of productiveness as an indicator of laziness, and I need to advocate for a radical concept — resting is a type of resistance.
To grasp the idea of relaxation as a software for social change, we’ve got to contextualize the totally different cultures that we’re embedded in, first on campus after which within the broader world.
The context of Stanford and the duck syndrome
The picture of a duck calmly gliding throughout the water whereas frantically paddling its legs to maintain up is a phenomenon identified to most Stanford college students. With the backdrop of the Californian solar and sandstone buildings, each single scholar you come throughout seems to be glowing and thriving. After I was sick, I felt this uncomfortable feeling in my abdomen as a result of everybody was shifting ahead whereas I used to be standing in place. Regardless of having a fever, I went to certainly one of my courses and talked to my classmates, pretending as if every thing was regular due to the concern of not doing sufficient. Though I felt like I used to be the one one who was struggling, I’m positive I wasn’t the one duck.
Time right here doesn’t operate as precise time however as a substitute features as a sequence of deadlines. Thursday isn’t Thursday however when an issue set is due. Though time is definitely shifting, I really feel static as a result of I’m not working. My productiveness measures my value. But this perception isn’t my very own particular person mindset or is it unique to our campus: we as a society are all confederate in ‘hustle tradition’ and poisonous productiveness.
White supremacy and the capitalistic mindset
Tricia Hersey, founding father of the Nap Ministry, traces America’s obsession with productiveness to its historical past of white supremacy. The Transatlantic Slave Commerce’s timeline from the sixteenth to nineteenth century observes tens of millions of black folks being enslaved, dehumanized and abused for his or her labor. Their our bodies bore probably the most troublesome and brutal work and the financial wealth gathered by way of slavery was the muse of American capitalism. “American slavery is essentially printed on the DNA of American capitalism,” write the historians Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman.
The wave of immigrants to the US throughout the colonial period additionally constructed upon the spine of the economic system, as knowledge printed within the Nationwide Library of Medication assist. When Chinese language immigrants first got here to San Francisco within the 1850s because of political and financial pressure in China, they largely contributed to the development of the Transcontinental Railroad by way of back-breaking labor. The Chinese language Railroad Staff in North America Venture at Stanford College famous that white staff had been unwilling to take part in such hazardous work so the demographic inhabitants for this work was 90% Chinese language because the demand for labor elevated.
“Chinese language obtained 30-50 p.c decrease wages than whites for a similar job and so they needed to pay for their very own meals stuffs,” Chang says. “In addition they had probably the most troublesome and harmful work, together with tunneling and the usage of explosives. There’s additionally proof they confronted bodily abuse from some supervisors. They protested these and the lengthy hours and so they used their collective power to problem the corporate.”
The image of staff’ strikes — refusing to work to insurgent in opposition to the system — reverberates all through historical past in different nations as effectively. The primary recorded labor strike occurred in historical Egypt when tomb-builders protested late cost in 1159 BC. In 1856, stonemasons in Melbourne walked off their jobs to demand for diminished working hours. By taking strike motion, they efficiently negotiated the eight-hour day as the overall trade normal in not simply Australia, but in addition in different nations.
Demanding for relaxation when the system is anticipating you to work has turn out to be an emblem of resistance amongst marginalized communities around the globe. Whereas Hersey’s work instantly challenges the connection between black folks and the work that they’ve been compelled to do in America, grind tradition exists in lots of different elements of the world and her philosophy on capitalism is extra common.
“[There’s this] grind tradition, which I say is white supremacy and capitalism, type of blended collectively. It’s the factor that began when our ancestors had been on plantations—the tradition of seeing human beings as machines. The phrase ‘grind’ — when you concentrate on gears and grinding on a machine — it sees our our bodies and who we’re as simply being machines for manufacturing,” stated Tricia Hersey in an interview with Prism Studies.
If we’re to study something from Hersey’s perception, it’s that the method of unlearning relaxation as a luxurious and as a substitute reconceptualizing relaxation as a necessity requires collective work.
Radical nourishment is an concept of resting with intentionality. Czarina Jimenez reframes the follow of “self-care” by proposing community-oriented actions that pointedly oppose cultural norms like perfectionism or productiveness. Practices of relaxation can take totally different varieties equivalent to co-creating arts, connecting to nature, listening to at least one’s our bodies by way of meditation, and gardening. As well as, The Nap Ministry affirms the concept of relaxation as revolt by way of collective napping experiences by changing public areas equivalent to parks, museums and artwork galleries into sacred and protected areas. The notion of “napping” symbolizes a bigger idea of getting the remaining that our our bodies desperately want.
Taking good care of your physique by way of relaxation needs to be examined past the lens of mainstream wellness and self care. It’s mentally and bodily exhausting to combat off the system that prioritizes merchandise as a substitute of humanity. “To maintain preventing to dismantle programs that don’t care about us, we should maintain our vessel,” wrote Mikeusha Vaughn. Tricia Hersey’s work requires a brand new wave of particular person and collective activism: we must always relaxation as a way to contribute to this political and social justice motion that disrupts totally different programs of oppression. Solely by resting can we collect extra power to advocate for a extra equitable and humane system.