My dear old dad is a veritable professor of the “Uh, what?” school of sayings. I grew up hearing gems like “You can s**t in one hand and wish in the other and see which one you fill first” and “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades” and “Balls on a bookend!!” Those are fairly self-explanatory – no, you can’t have a pony, next time you better get an ‘A’, and who left that *Barbie Van in the middle of the (dark) hallway!?
A Change Is As Good As A Rest
But then there was this one. “A change is as good as a rest.” I could never wrap my teenage head around that one. In fact, I found that little nugget so odd and so fundamentally backwards that I thought he had made it up. Not so. According to The Wordsworth Dictionary of Proverbs, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself was using the term as early as 1890. Which makes sense – it does read as quite British’y.
But still. How could ‘a change’ be as good as ‘a rest’? The word ‘change’ as a verb has been bouncing around since the 13th century, and implies movement or alteration. It’s active. It requires exertion and energy. Whereas ‘rest’, a pre 12th century word, is defined specifically as a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities. Well, helloooo sailor! I don’t need to tell you which one I preferred as a teen (and still do today, frankly).
Rest Can be Deadly
Of course, eventually I grew up. And where change used to represent ‘insecurity’ to me in the past (you can read about that here), as I got older, I learned to embrace it. And I started to finally get his advice. See, rest can have two very different meanings. It can be restorative. But it can also be deadly. Rest – depending on your state of mind – sometimes leads to inertia. Then get your checklist out for apathy, listlessness and languor. Rest can also mean fear. And it can keep you in an unhealthy relationship, or a soul sucking job, far longer than you should have stayed.
Shake It Up
I know now that the change my dad spoke of meant throwing that deck of cards in the air and every once in awhile taking the path least followed. It meant shaking things up, allowing your mind to think of new ways of approaching your work – or your world! It takes courage to get up off that couch if you’re struggling with something, it takes immense courage to change the course you’re on. There will be potholes, and some of them will be more yawning canyons than standard ka’thunks. Yet every time I hit one of those canyons, I remember what my dear old dad would say – “a change is as good as a rest.” But sometimes it’s infinitely better.
*NOTE: I plead the fifth on the Barbie Van incident of ’77.
I would love to know what family proverbs were used with abandon at your house! What’s your take on “a change is as good as a rest”? Please leave your thoughts below.