Little Wild Thoughts

Rest

Folder
As seen in Source Mag
Date
8th Feb 2024

It’s the first Saturday of the Autumn half term holidays. The Toussaint break here in France, actually quite a big deal of a holiday to have its own nickname, but something I never thought about before the enfant entered our lives.

Why would I even think about it? Typically in your 30’s and child free you’ve left study far behind and the year isn’t broken up into anything other than perhaps Christmas and the four weeks of annual leave you’re entitled to as your break from the daily grind. Now however, we live by the school calendar and have been learning the value of the rest time associated with it.

 

So this Saturday morning unbelievably with an early rising six year old in the house I’m stood quietly with a coffee in my cosy pj’s out on the balcony while the dogs have a wee in the garden. It’s just starting to get light and I’ve got the whole of Morzine spread out before me; with that magical mix of mist and wood-fired chimney smoke rising from the village below up towards my view of the slopes of Pleney. Its quiet. The town and the enthusiastic six year old haven’t woken up yet. These moments in life are few and far between and I know the value of them now more than I ever did before.

Watching the sky lighten to see the colours of the trees. Breathing in that damp, smoky smell - it rained last night and I can really notice the earthiness mixed with the wood-fire smoke. Really tasting my coffee- it’s the weekend so there’s time for a ‘real’ coffee not just the wham bam instant of a work and school day morning rush.

 

Autumn in the mountains is unbelievably beautiful and seemingly even more so this year. A few clients in my treatment room have been saying this week that they can’t remember the colours being quite so vibrant last year, the colours of the leaves against the blue of the sky on that perfect October day not quite so striking. Is that really true? Is it more beautiful this year than last year? Have the trees changed how they flow from one season to the other? Or have we started to change how we look at things?

 

In my job as a holistic therapist I get both a good insight into how our community really feels on a day to day basis. They tell me things that they might not say out loud to anyone else, or body and breath tell me things even if they’re not ready to get the words out. I also understand the incredible value of that connection to nature and the living world around us.

Here in our mountains that connection is super obvious, it’s right there, every time you look out the window. Look up now and there’s probably a mountain staring right at you, but how often do we connect those changes in the world around us to our own lives?

 

Watching the trees change from the vibrant green of summer to the magnificent oranges, golds and browns of Autumn is a visual treat to be sure, but it’s also an important reminder to us of the beauty and importance of change for us humans.

Summer is a time of verdant production, nature working hard to ensure her success in the time to come, the fruitful growth and continuation of the cycle, but Autumn? Autumn is a time to slow everything down, it’s the big breath out for the trees, the end of one cycle before the great rest of Winter in preparation for the fecundity of Spring.

Winter is the season of rest for nature. The trees and plants are dormant, cosy and wrapped up beneath their snowy blanket, quiet, resting, conserving their energy and waiting until it’s time to be productive again.

 

Back when our main concerns were feeding ourselves and staying warm and sheltered, the human race lived like this too, learning from the changes in the world around us, eating what nature provided, resting and conserving our own energies for when we needed them.

 

So what of us now? How does the word ‘rest’ make you feel? Are you reading this here in Morzine on one of your weeks of entitled annual leave? Do you feel rested? Is this holiday a chance for you to reset your energies and go back into life renewed and refreshed for the challenges of your daily grind? Or are you keen to ski faster and harder, cover more miles and knock up your fastest time down Chamossière?

In our fast paced world, with all the demands upon us for success and production, rest is often seen as a bit shameful, something we feel guilty about. Taking a sick day because you’re just so physically and mentally exhausted that you can’t do anything other than lie on the sofa, then heading back to work still not quite on top form and keeping on going until you burn out.

Various different research polls state that anywhere from 46% to a whopping 88% of UK employees have experienced “at least some level of burnout over the last two years, with one third claiming to suffer from physical and mental exhaustion frequently due to pressures within the workplace” I see this every week. Even here in our mountain idyll it’s hard to shake the constraints and conditioning that we’ve been brought up with. Born in the late 70’s and early 80’s, our whole upbringing was ‘work hard to achieve and succeed’. It was never ‘get a good nights sleep and enjoy your life’, so yes, we’ve felt it too.

Part of our push to move to Morzine was to teach ourselves that we could live life differently and that it would be ok.

The funny thing is that living here we absolutely work as hard as we did in the UK, maybe sometimes even harder depending on the time of year, but, we are all learning the value of rest.

Seasonal living is strange and takes some getting used to, especially if like us your work isn’t driven by the winter and summer seasons.

 

Morzine knows what she’s doing. Winter and Summer she’s on form, you’re all here, the slopes, shops and restaurants are bustling, the town is alive even on an early Saturday morning from my balcony. Once the lifts close in Spring and Autumn the change is even more profound than the leaves on the trees. Quiet, calm, the deep breath out for the town. Everyone takes their holidays, shops and restaurants have massively reduced hours, everyone rests, renews and regains their energies for the next season.

That’s how it’s done. It feels weird at first to not just be constantly pushing, pushing all the time. To go for a walk with friends on a Thursday at 2.30 pm, but the towns life is driven by the change of nature around us, the mountains themselves decide how fast paced our lives should be and it’s beautiful to surrender to that. Even having year round jobs like we do, we accept and value the lessons that nature teaches us, knowing when to grow and know when to slow.

 

I think the reason the trees seem more beautiful this year is because we’re all looking at our lives differently. We’re all starting to slow down and focus on the beauty that’s in front of us, whereas maybe we were a bit too busy, too rushed to notice it before.

If the past few years have taught us anything it’s how important the living of our lives is. Is that grind? Is that production and success? Or is it the time we spend with our loved ones? Is how we feel inside ourselves? Actually content and peaceful, when some of the most important moments to us are those quiet ones, with the good coffee, in the cosy pyjamas, with the best views.