Monday, October 29, 2012

A Little Relaxation

When I look at society today, I see one common thread - stress.  People are rushing here and there, demanding answers right now!  Everything is a competition; we must be the best!  But to what end?  And in the effort to "win", what do we give up?  What do we lose?

How many tools and gadgets have been created to assure that we keep up this fast-paced race to nowhere?  The original point of modern conveniences, like washing machines and vacuum cleaners, was to allow us more leisure time.  Instead, we rely on them to get things done quicker so we have more time to work.  Even as I write this, I feel the stress building in my upper back.  So, how do we begin to change this pattern, this insistence that we have to go faster and do more to acquire more stuff?  That is the very question I asked the Runes this week.  How can we take time to relax and incorporate some tranquility into our lives?

The Runes were very understanding.  They know that this is asking a lot, which is why the first Rune in this draw was Thurisaz, the Rune of thorns and power.  I like this Rune here, because, while it acknowledges the difficulty of the situation, how uncomfortable the very idea of relaxation makes us, it also reminds us that, once we begin to focus more on relaxation, we will realize it power.  The fact that this is such a powerful Rune, is reassuring as we attempt to alter the priorities in our lives.  As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the old Norwegian Rune poem about Thurisaz mentions "women's illness", which I liken to menstruation and the ability to create life.  As such, drawing this Rune first to answer this question implies that, by shifting our focus to relaxation or perhaps simply mindfulness, we hold within us the ability to create a new life for ourselves, one less controlled by stress and more focused on things that make us happy.

Perthro is next, the Rune of friendly competition and socializing.  This, to me, was an interesting draw, because it may not seem to fit, at first glance, with the question.  However, it fits in two clear ways.  First, when we are in less of a rush, we have more time for friends and family and socializing.  In fact, that may be what we should be striving for, more time for relaxation and fun with those we love.  The competition aspect comes in to remind us that some people may not view this change of perspective - away from the stress-filled world we have created to one more balanced between work and play - as silly or ridiculous or even a waste of time.  The last phrase "waste of time" epitomizes today's mindset.  In other words, if you aren't making money with your time, you're wasting it.  How do you think those people would feel about a friendly competition?  Do you think they could shift away from the stress?

Finally, we have Algiz, the Rune of self-defense and protection.  What a great Rune to draw as a reason to pursue some relaxation, to preserve or restore our well-being.  When we feel balance and reduce the stress we carry, the feeling spreads through our families.  It creates a positive feedback of calm, a reordering of priorities, and, coincidentally, may make you more productive.

Several years ago, I visited Munich and heard this motto or saying from numerous people there - we work to live, we don't live to work.  That is the point the Runes are making.  Work is a tool to help us enjoy our lives.  We are not tools for the work that we do.

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