Restlessness: this is the word that concerns us. Restlessness is the characteristic distinguishing human beings from animals. Restlessness is the power that creates history and culture. Restlessness is the root of every spirit that uplifts itself toward mortality; restlessness is – let us go ahead and say it – the most profound meaning and the lifeblood of all religion. Restlessness – not in any transitory human sense, in which all we find is nervousness and impatience – no, restlessness in the direction of the eternal… pointing toward the infinite. – Dietrich Bonheoffer
My cousin recently posted on Facebook that the week between Christmas and New Year’s is that time of year when we don’t really know what we are doing, where we are going, or what’s happening. How right she is…
By now the gifts have been opened and the turkey has been eaten but the kids are still off school and the prospect of going back to normal seems pointless with another major holiday just around the corner.
The be fair, some of us do go back to work but there isn’t really all that much to do so we wrap up loose ends, clean up our work spaces, and work on the things we don’t have time for the rest of the year. The rest of us have stay home and end up doing the same kinds of things in our personal lives, catching up on television programs, reading and cleaning out the vacuum cleaner.
Regardless of how we decide to fill the time most of us are existing in a kind of suspended reality. Waiting.
We wait for the New Year, when it is socially acceptable to start new things. We finished all our major projects last week so that we could enjoy the Christmas season free of anxiety, (at least free of any anxiety cause by unfinished work, Christmas of course, brings its own special form or anxiety that is beyond the scope of this post) and now we are left with restless anticipation.
I like what Dietrich Bonheoffer had to say about restlessness, quoted above. According to him there is a spiritual dimension to restlessness. It is the “root of every spirit that uplifts itself toward mortality”.
Put another way, I think what Bonheoffer was getting at is that restlessness is our spiritual self wrestling with the reality and limitations of the physical world. We all know on a spiritual level that we are made for more. It is that deeply held longing that has driven mankind to create.
One theologian friend of mind once call mankind the “created family of a creative God behaving creatively”. Restless creativity is just part of what it means to be human.
We create everything out of this sense of restlessness and it is during this week, between the frantic race to Christmas and the fresh start of the New Year, that we are at our most restless. And potentially, our most creative.
It’s a great time of year to make plans, organize and lay groundwork for the next big thing. I’ve been updating my business plan, developing goals and creating tracking systems that I will use for the entirety of 2019. I’ve also been going to the gym, reading, catching up on a few movies and cleaning my office. After I post this I might even take apart and clean the vacuum cleaner.
The point is that feeling restless is good. It drives us forward, even when it seems like we aren’t making any progress, forces us to be creative and prepare to do what we are meant be doing, so that we can remain “pointing toward the infinite”.
Stay restless and get creative…