Yes, I know this may come as a shock to some of my readers. Some may have been so sure that I am secretly the Caped Crusader: the legendary vigilante who dresses as a bat for some reason. It is not so.
I am not Batman.
All the same, I sometimes hold myself to impossibly high, Batman-esque standards. I also have Batman Syndrome, obsessing over my failures and allowing little mistakes to cancel out great successes. I demand much of myself. I have to be productive. I have to get stuff done.
I forget that I’m not Batman. He may be the pinnacle of human strength, will, and intelligence, but I am not. I’m a guy who needs sleep, gets sick, and needs a day off now and then.
A few days ago, I was reading the latest post from an animator’s blog. Something he said struck a chord with me.
And tomorrow I’m taking the day off from everything and not working on anything . . . It’s been a long time since I took a day completely off, so it’s due. We need downtime. Our society doesn’t like that because we’re not being productive members of society when we don’t do anything, but if we’re always on 24/7, we burn out.
This man has clearly learned a valuable lesson. He understands that he is not Batman. No ordinary person can be on the go all the time, working constantly, never taking a break, expecting nothing less than absolute effort. Normal, non-Batman human beings need days to take naps, read a book, or play Mario Kart. Without those days, we break down. It’s not weakness or self-indulgence to relax occasionally. It’s a necessity.
I’m often busy even when I don’t have to be. More often than I care to admit, I wear myself out working on things that aren’t urgent—things that can wait until I’ve had a cup of tea, a walk to the park, or a good night’s rest. I get so accustomed to being busy that I feel guilty or panicked if I spend too long without doing something “productive.”
There’s something in the Old Testament about taking a day off every week: the Sabbath day. I usually file it away with all those rules about burnt offerings and unclean foods as a religious law that has become obsolete. I’m no longer so sure. Besides being healthy and sensible, taking days off seems like an affirmation of faith—a way of saying, “I trust God enough to give him today.”
Sometimes, determination and coffee aren’t enough: “Man shall not live by caffeine alone,” or something like that. I am not Batman, and I sometimes need a break.
Unless you’re Batman—I’m guessing you’re probably not—you may sometimes need a break, too. Don’t be afraid to take one!