Taking some time out

2018-07-25 06:00

I WAS recently forced to take time out. Proper time out. It’s a concept that is anathema to many of us.

Switching out and disconnecting from work, household chores and social duties. It was not voluntary I hasten to add. It was the result of a rather daunting surgical procedure and its ensuing recovery period. I was an invalid. My worst nightmare, came true. Many of us live such frenetic lives that the idea of a total switch-off can be unnerving. It feels like a waste of time. What is it about many of us in Generation X who abhor self-indulgence? Could it be that the books we read as children described such hyperactivity in children that it became ingrained in us to work, work, work?

Every book described children doing chores. The one that sticks out the most for me was poor Laura Ingils Wilder having to do her chores, come rain, blizzard or shine. Locust plague — yup there she was tilling the ground for potatoes as the locusts crawled over her.

During the Long Winter blizzard, she was in the freezing cold shed all day, rolling hay into fire sticks, her fingers freezing off. It would be considered child abuse nowadays. Our parents also made us do chores, lots of them. Chores were part of life. No meal was a free ride. There were dishes to clear, wash, dry and put away. We mowed the grass, did the washing and tidied up. It was good for us. Anyway, I digress. So what does one do, when one can do nothing? I had great plans. I would journal my recovery. I would start planning that novel. I would read intellectual tomes. I would exercise my mind, if I could not be rushing around physically.

But, when it came to it, I found I hadn’t the stomach for any of that. I even battled to engage with a full-length feature film at first, such was the effect of the rather marvellous painkillers I was prescribed. My reading was confined to books which induced comfort, like the mashed potato or warm custard literary equivalent. I borrowed Gerald Durrell’s Corfu Trilogy and this sweet book kept me company during many long nights when sleep was very evasive.

I chuckled out loud in the dead of the night, immobile in my hospital bed and afterwards at home. During the day, I swopped the pages of the Durrell antics for the TV remote. And, with time to channel hop, what a feast of television I found.

I watched documentaries voraciously, on all different topics. From a look at the British music group Pulp doing a concert in their home town, to a look back at the heroic Zola Budd’s run-in with Mary Dekker.

I marvelled at animals around the globe and visited refugees in Gaza. I sat wide-eyed at the antics of the Kardashians and Bonang, and watched fascinated as I followed the journey of a Mormon family, with three wives and lots and lots of children. I held my breath as the Thai cave rescue was broadcast, whooping with joy at the news that the children had been brought to safety. And, for the first time ever, I watched soccer. Tons of it! I held my breath as nations failed to score and rejoiced when they did. I shouted instructions to players and yelled out what they should rather have done. I mocked those writhing around on the ground unnecessarily and picked sides shamelessly, changing my allegiance at will. I chastened those who sang their anthem without passion and took the side of those who belted out their anthems, misty eyed and proud.

I was showered with kindness by my family, my neighbour and friends, and was taken care of beautifully. Meals were provided, treats materialised in pretty packets. Words of encouragement offered and advice dispensed. I had to have things done for me, a leap of letting go of my most precious independence. At first I needed help with aspects of showering, dressing and getting food. I had to be driven around.

I found that once I learnt to be patient with myself and my slow recovery, my confinement to home was a blessing in disguise. It presented a chance slowly to, at a comfortable pace in the safety of my most familiar environment, find my feet again. And what a gift that has been.

• Stephanie Saville is the deputy editor of The Witness.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

5 scientific benefits of owning a cat

According to science, just the act of watching cats itself can bring about positive emotions – so it comes as no surprise then, that owning a cat has a number of benefits.

 

Paws

Why we love cats
8 great natural remedies for your pet
How to clean your dog’s eyes
This special pooch inspired his brother to learn to stand again
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.