RELAXING AS A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY

This line from Greg McKeown's newsletter got me stumped and thinking deeply.


Lately, I have been exploring how the tendency to "be over worked, and be over productive", that came from my Filipino upbringing, is a trauma response. I recall the many instances that I berated myself for not being productive, or not working hard enough because my culture demanded from us the value of perseverance and working hard. Times when I knew rest and restoration was crucial, yet pausing or pivoting were not offered or considered as options. It was only about moving forward and facing life with intensity and fervour.


The period in my life that I had to re-evaluate this mindset was when I got ill with breast cancer. It was in a moment when I couldn't barely do anything that I realised how my perceptions and beliefs around productivity were skewed to this mentality to the point of causing harm to myself and my wellbeing. It was in this moment in my life that I had to re-examine my ideas around success and what it means to be truly successful. Metrics that were not based from my family, from friends, from my culture, from expectations placed upon me. Stripping these was like peeling an onion. Each layer that I uncovered made me wince and realise the depth of how much our culture was influenced by colonisation. How this notion of "working hard to rise above your level" was indoctrinated by the Spanish colonial bureaucracy and their presumed indolence of the Filipinos . We grew up with "Juan Tamad" as a character in Philippine folklore that signified extremely laziness and reported by many Spanish reports as an endemic quality of the Filipinos.


333 years of colonisation and being called "Indios" -stupid, uneducated, uncivilized beings who are instruments of evil, whose malevolence needed to be eradicated by the pious Catholics priest and the brave Spanish conquerors- carried with it historical traumas from social class distinction, shame of our skin colour, reverence to the Western culture, and even this deeply rooted emphasis on working hard to achieve status.


From my perspective, relaxing as a collective responsibility is a very deep practice emerging from a space of privilege. For this to work we need the space, support and systems that would allow for us to incorporate these practices in our daily lives. It involves the acknowledgment that each person carries systemic practices around productivity, work and success that needs unpacking. It means having the opportunities to work on how our need to be overly engaged are fed by the systems around us and what it would take for us to change the relationships around these systems.


For us to be able to hold space for each other in this collective responsibility of rest, we need to give space to the historical healing of our personal and collective traumas that propel us to selflessly do more, give more, produce more. In this deep, exploratory and soul-searching manner, can we truly begin to slowly relax the system and with it, encourage restoration in others as well.



A book published by an unknown author in 1919 in Manila entitled Buhay na Pinagdaanan ni Juan Tamad na Anac ni Fabio at ni Sofia sa Caharian nang Portugal (Tagalog for "The Life lived by Juan Tamad, son of Fabio and Sofia, in the Kingdom of Portugal") contains a poem consisting of 78 pages of four-line stanzas at seven stanzas per page. It tells of how Juan Tamad was born to a couple named Fabio and Sofia, and his adventures in Portugal. Source: Wikipedia