to relax

On Rest and Sleep


This cat inspired me.

Today was the seventh of August and after cycling in the Amsterdam I decided to stop for coffee. The city was full of life with people on foot, bicycle and in all sorts of cages on wheels. The sun warmed all below it from grain of sand to supple skin. I had cycled to the Oosterdok for an appointment and went back to the Leidseplein area. There I took a seat.

When I took a seat I noticed the cat taking a nap. This made me think. I started thinking about rest and sleep. Often nature in its many forms best demonstrates how important rest and sleep are. This cat was not giving up its place and occupied the bench. Who would mind the cat? Most people sat outside anyway.

Rest is one of those terms that is broad and specific at the same time. The verb “to rest” though is immediately specific. It means literally that one does not work or make an effort to work. “To rest” is in popular English largely replaced by “to relax” which means to loosen up to the extent of not doing anything work or stress (inducing) related.

“To sleep” literally means to enter a state of sleep in which you are unconscious and not awake. The human body limits activity to breathing and recovering from all physical and mental efforts during the state of being awake. I once foolishly tried to stay awake for three days. After two days my body took over and I learnt to not try that again.

Between being awake and sleep there is a delicate balance. Stay awake too long and you collapse. Sleep too little and you collapse. Sleep too long and you slow down. Lack of physical activity can weaken you and lack of rest can exhaust you. Per person balancing rest and sleep with daily life is a matter of choices, preferences and what the human body is used to.

Back to the cat. In the hour I sat there for coffee and reading it continued to rest. Sleeping and sometimes shortly waking up to curl up again I saw a cat doing what I should do more often.

Instead I had some coffee, foolish me…


An Espresso.