To Transform Work, We Must Rest
Rest is not antithetical to work. We cannot reimagine work without it.
Rest must be central to our reimagining of everything in our daily existence, including our work.
The rest we need—the rest that we deserve—will come in many forms. I find power in proclaiming daydreaming to be a form of rest. To sky-gaze, stare off, or sit in the silence of your own mind is a radical act of resistance in a culture that wants you working and accomplishing tasks 24/7.
My daily rest practice includes at least 30 minutes of daydreaming, and it usually begins with me staring out of my bedroom window as I focus on the sky. During these moments, I go into a DreamSpace—a space of invention and imagination, free from White supremacy and capitalism. A place to work things out that can’t be accessed in an awake state, a place to tap into the wisdom our bodies and Spirits want to desperately share. For years, my daydreaming practice has floated my thoughts to a central question: What would it feel, taste, and smell like to not have to work to eat, exist, and survive? During these moments of freedom dreaming, I envision every single descendant of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade retired from all work, while supported by an endless well of funds and resources provided by reparations. The debt owed to us. I breathe wide and feel tingly in my hands as I close my eyes and open my heart to the portal that daydreaming and resting provide. This begins to feel like a reality.
The daydream continues on.
During this retirement from labor, Black folks begin to experiment with leisure, pleasure, experimentation, community care, and naps. There are nap times every day. City parks all over the country are filled with Black folks napping on the grass around lunch time. Rest becomes the foundation for our every movement. Rest becomes a North Star guiding us to the next dimension of liberation—and this begins my reimagination of work in a capitalistic society.
I don’t want to work so much that there is no space to have leisure and to just be. I don’t want to grind on at an unsustainable, machine-level pace. I don’t want to place my entire worth as a divine being at the feet of capitalism, begging to be truly seen for who I am: a perfect, brilliant human being and citizen, worthy of rest simply because I am alive.
As I start to come out of this dreaming session, I feel hopeful and expansive. I feel rest. To daydream and imagine what may seem impossible is a spiritual practice. It is rooted in the rich history of pushing back against the powers that be. It is refusal. It is a protest. It is resistance. As Octavia Butler teaches us, “What we don’t see, we assume can’t be. What a destructive assumption.”
The Nap Ministry is an organization that believes rest is a form of resistance and reparations. Since 2016, we have curated sacred spaces for communities to rest via collective nap experiences, art installations, workshops, and social media. The first tenet of The Nap Ministry is that rest disrupts and pushes back against White supremacy and capitalism. During my work guiding The Nap Ministry, I have learned without a doubt that we will never, ever be able to gather the inventive and imaginative ideas necessary to reimagine work within grind culture from an exhausted state. It simply cannot and will not happen if we are disembodied, exhausted, and aligning ourselves with toxic systems by overworking and ignoring our bodies’ right to slow down, connect, and rest.
Nearly everyone on the planet has been trained under the global plague that is White supremacy, and because of this, the work of disruption, healing, and uplifting rest as community care falls to all of us. We must build the world we deserve. And if this world is to include a cultural reimagining of work to include equality, dignity, invention, and wellness, our DreamSpace must be visited intentionally and often. We must rest!
Resting is the only way, and must be the foundation for any radical change in our culture. I realize it feels counterintuitive to pause, stop, and rest when we wake up daily to another tragedy or inhumane policy that deserves our attention and labor. But to continue aligning ourselves with the ways of grind culture under the guise of helping is creating more harm. It is killing us physically and spiritually and tricking us all to participate in the violence of grind culture.
We will not make it without rest, and I need us all to make it. Rest can’t be an afterthought or a reaction to centuries of worker exploitation, hyperproductivity, and trauma. We cannot wait on toxic systems to give us permission or offer a blueprint for our goals and ideas. We must lean on revolutionary rest, supported by community care, to create space for invention and for what we can’t see. We need rest and we need a DreamSpace to carry us into our new worlds.
Let us always remember there is another way. May we work less. May we rest more. May we dream now.