In my home country, Japan, the word for a break (yasumi) is written with the character, 休. It consists of two parts, 人 (the symbol for a human) and 木 (the symbol for a tree). 休 shows a person pausing by a tree.
休 often appears in Japanese words. There is 昼休み (hiruyasumi: lunch break), 夏休み (natsuyasumi: summer break), and 冬休み (fuyuyasumi: winter break) at every school and in the workplace. When someone misses school or work, she is お休み (oyasumi: absent, pausing). Instead of saying, “Good night,” they say, 「お休みなさい 」(oyasuminasai: take a pause).
Pause leads to rest. Once we pause by a tree, the next thing we want to do is sit, lean against the tree, and relax. I would go further and lie down under the tree!
Many of us live in a modern culture where taking a pause is generally not so valued. The question, “How are you?” often receives the answer of “I’m so busy!” It implies that the person has a full and productive life — with a price of stress and exhaustion. We text and email during lunch break. We navigate through jam-packed highways and airport TSA during summer break.
Our break often does not lead to rest. Instead of pausing by a tree, enjoying the fresh air, and marveling at the natural beauty around, we are busy getting something done and arriving somewhere.
We carry our restlessness anywhere, anytime, including the time for pausing.
Let’s take time for 休 (yasumi) every day. Sit on your couch or lie down on your bed and imagine you are pausing under a tall tree. Enjoy the cool shade, songs of birds, and gentle breeze.
Let’s take time for 休 (yasumi) every day.