When your marriage fails, work.

When your finances tank, work.

When you’re down in the dumps, work.

That was the advice my father imparted — advice he was given when he was young.

Dad, who died nine years ago at 92, understood the physical and spiritual benefits of labor.

Besides working a full-time job, he’d come home and tend his large vegetable gardens, chop wood, mow lawns and paint. He was an artist, as well as a father, breadwinner, home chef and philosopher. He read books, kept abreast of politics and golfed. When he was older, he was up at 5 a.m. every day to head to the golf course.

But Dad also knew the importance of rest.

“Be lazy,” he’d advise.

He quoted that phrase often in his old age.

It was a directive given him by a doctor of whom he was particularly fond.

As important as it is to work, physically and mentally, it is equally critical that we know when to stop, rest, read a book, recline by the lake, listen to the loons and breathe in the late summer air.

I inherited my father’s — and mother’s — love of work. She also was a whirlwind, both in her job and at home. I tend to push for 100% at work, and more.

And then I go home, weed the gardens, clean the house, cook, and dream up all sorts of projects to launch.

My husband often tells me to stop. Typically, I do, when my legs won’t hold me up any longer.

When I schedule my vacation time for the year, I ask for a few weeks in the summertime because I enjoy the weather, but waiting six months to take time off isn’t the wisest, I’ve learned.

By the time July rolls around, I’m more than ready for a break, or two or three.

And now, in late summer, after having had lots of time off, I feel refreshed, mentally, physically and spiritually. I’m ready to be back at it.

Yes, work is great, but rest is paramount.

I cringe when I hear stories about young people, both here and in other countries, working themselves to the nub.  In some cases, they toil nearly around the clock to get ahead, literally killing themselves.

Life isn’t supposed to be like that. We must stop, breathe, and reflect.

And so today, this second day of September, I invite you to recline, repose, relax.

In other words, be lazy.

Happy Labor Day.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 31 years. Her columns appear here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.



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