It is late afternoon on a clear, crisp October day. The light is beginning to fade and so am
I. The clock on my screen says eighteen
minutes past. I glance at the cyclamen
on my desk for what seems like a few seconds, then suddenly I notice that the
clock now says twenty-five past. I am
struggling with motivation and energy at towards the end of a long day. I’m lucky enough to largely set my own work
schedule and I tend to focus on more challenging tasks in the morning because
that’s when I’m at my best. I know that
a lull always hits around this time, yet still I try to push on; still I try to
do more of the hard things that I began earlier in the day.
I glance away from the screen again, this time gazing at the
view outside the office window. The canopy
of the old oak trees is dwindling more with each passing hour. The ground is covered with fallen leaves and
crushed acorns. The scene reminds me of
so many sights evoked during this The
Fourth Quarter autumn journey: trees, plants and hedgerows offering up
their goods before laying themselves down for the quieter months of
winter. During this dormancy, it can
seem like nothing is happening but that is far from the case. Nature is not dead, simply resting.
Oh what quiet! Isn’t
that what so many of us long for? The
pause, the interlude, the break from our frenetic, frantic pace of life. Even if we don’t crave the quiet, often we
need it. Our hearts, our bodies, our
souls try to get the message across. Our
computers crash, forcing us to sit still patiently (or not) for a few minutes
whilst its system reboots. We get ill,
forcing us to stay in bed for a few days whilst our system reboots. This,
comes the whisper, this. This is
what we need. Rest. Rest. Rest.
The entire ecosystem is in on the act too. The scenes outside our windows at this time
of the year join in this whispered message.
Each tree, each bush, each plant is telling us the same thing: it is
time to rest. Lay down as much as you
can, strip yourself back until only the bare bones of your essence remain, and
rest until spring stirs new life within you.
Even the much-maligned dark nights can be interpreted this
way: what if longer nights were literally a sign that we need more sleep right
So that is what I offer you this week: permission from the
universe to get some rest. And because I
can feel the resistance to this emanating through the ether, I even offer some
specific suggestions as to how:
#1 This weekend sees the end of British Summer Time in,
well, Britain obviously. This means the
clocks go back an hour on Saturday night/Sunday morning. Think of this as bonus extra sleep time! And if you’re not in the UK, then sleep an
hour longer anyway and think of it as international solidarity. If you let us know when your clocks change
then we can return the gesture. Maybe it
could become some kind of new peace movement!
#2 Use this shift out of official ‘Summer Time’ to change
your sleeping patterns more broadly – perhaps move your usual bedtime earlier
by an hour.
#3 If the second suggestion seems a bit much, how about
getting aboard ‘the Ten O’clock Angel Train’ for a few nights instead? Yes, you did read that correctly. I did just use the phrase ‘the Ten O’clock
Angel Train’. Those of you who have
worked with me before or did my 24 Days Before advent journey last December already
know that I’m a bit obsessed with this amusingly named concept. Some years ago, as I began my A Life Of One’s Own journey, I
worked my way through pretty much every self-help book in my local
library. On its shelves was a copy of Happy For No Reason by Marci Shimoff. I don’t remember much else about this book
except for the concept of the Angel Train.
To feel happier for no reason, Shimoff recommends that you go to bed for
ten o’clock for three nights in a row.
She promises that by the fourth day, you will feel better. She also gives reasons for this based ancient
Indian wisdom, including the proverb that an hour’s sleep before midnight is
worth two after. Shimoff claims that she
and her husband are huge fans of this idea, and labeled the practice as
catching the ten o’clock angel train.
The phraseology has given me many chuckles in the time since
I first read it, but wording aside, I can vouch that it really works. Whether this is because of circadian rhythms,
I don’t know. What I do know is that I
always feel better for it – thus this suggestion to you.
Try it. See if you
can get to bed for 10pm three evenings this week – or at least an hour or two
earlier than your usual bedtime. Even
better, try it for three nights in a row.
Remember that it isn’t just me that is suggesting you should
do this. Right now, the whole universe
is conspiring to tell you, me, us all, that we need more rest.
Don’t forget to share your reflections on this week’s theme,
including letting us know how you got on if you tried any of the suggestions,
either via the A Life
Of One’s Own Facebook page or using the hashtag #fourthquarter2015 on
Instagram and/or Twitter.