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  • Shayda Kafai

An Insistence on Rest, on Slowness

Today, I am inside need. My bodymind asks for slowness, for something more consistent than what I have been practicing this year.


My disabled, Mad mind has slowed me down enough to remember that need is not shameful. I repeat this incantation until I can feel the compassion of the word. I retreat and gift myself sleep.


***


I forget to rest. I forget to rest and only return to remembering when my joints ache, when my mind is racing, and when my bodymind is weighed down with depression. I realize, now, that this slippage is intentional. Capitalism does not want me to remember the gloriousness of restoration, of slowness. Capitalism wants me to unconditionally prioritize productivity so much so that I forget that I am a needing, craving bodymind, so that I forget that I can create, teach, mentor, and write in a way that honors my bodymind needs.


These lessons of slowness root themselves in the antiracist, anticapitalist resistance of performance artist and activist Tricia Hersey's Nap Ministry. In centering the effects of the racialized sleep gap, Hersey urges that rest is not a privilege; rest becomes evidence of our communal persistence and rebellion against capitalism, racism, cis-heteropatriarchy, ableism, sanism, and classism. Rest becomes how we pushback.

the words "normalize rest" in black font are superimposed on a bright yellow, rectangular box. Below it reads "The Nap Ministry Founded in 2016"

(Image description: the words "normalize rest" in black font are superimposed on a bright yellow, rectangular box. Below it reads "The Nap Ministry Founded in 2016").


In telling us to "normalize rest," Hersey invites us to reinvigorate our bodyminds without shame or stigma, to claim our need for rest with bold regulatory. Hersey's work taught me that we do not need to "earn" rest.


I embody this practice, insert rest into my routine, and then forget it all again. All of this innate, social justice wisdom leaves me. Capitalism's speed and insistence on productivity pushes me into forgetting.


***


I write this post to remember the forced, oppressive process of intentional forgetting. From beneath my blanket, post-nap, I write this to remember that to survive, to thrive, I must insist on rest and slowness, we all must.

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