Avery Parks chews his food slowly as if each bite might give him the very words I could tell he was looking for. His chewing gets slower, and he comes to his mental conclusion.
“I like to rest in hope, if that makes sense,” he says quizzically. “We always need rest, but the question for me is more: from what?”
I smirk and shake my head. If that wasn’t an Avery Parks answer, I don’t know what was. As if reading my mind, he smiles at me and puts another forkful of green beans in his mouth, pushing the green beans against his cheeks to make him seem extra cheerful. But then a voice from my right jumps in on the conversation.
“Ohhhh just say it Avery,” says junior nursing major Kimberly North, pointing at him with her own fork. “He watches ‘The Office’ A LOT.”
North is Parks’ girlfriend, and I’m sitting next to them in Cobo discussing their idea of rest and how they achieve it at this point of the semester. With finals approaching and GPA’s on the line, there was never a more perfect duo to sit down with. Parks, on one hand, is a history major who eats up information like a vacuum. A thinker through and through, Parks loves to jump on my questions, thumbing through them to come up with an answer that satisfies both myself and him. North, on the other hand, is an achiever through and through. Yet I could tell her grit is cloaked in kindness and compassion for everyone around her. It is evident as she listens intently to Parks, who continues on despite a friendly but truthful jab from North about his addiction to Michael Scott quotes. He shoots her a loving smile then looks back at me with his focused expression. He dives into how he rests with purpose, because everything Parks does has purpose, even his rest. It’s one of the reasons I look up to him as a friend so much. Resting with purpose is the best kind of rest, he says.
“I love to read. I love books that resonate with me spiritually. I think for me I have to still think when I rest, just at a slower pace.”
North grunts and laughs to herself. Parks shoots her a look of affectionate disapproval at the silent critique of his methods. As a nursing major, North feels the load of finals week more than most. For a while Parks and North jokingly discuss how different they are when it comes to rest. Parks finds himself resting more periodically throughout the day, while North finds herself stumbling across the finish line, ready to stop thinking all together. She talks mostly of sleep but admits that being productive allows for better rest.
“I try and start my day early and end my day earlier,” she says proudly. “I also love being outside. Nature is such a good way to experience rest. I get so sick of computer screens, and nature is often where I encounter God in the midst of my rest.”
Parks, now leaning back in his chair, adds another thought.
“I have to set goals to get stuff done,” he says. “If I don’t, my work and rest become this big ball of confusion.”
North quickly interjects. “Stress is good sometimes, I think, because it keeps me motivated.”
“Oh sure it does,” Parks says sarcastically.
They both laugh heartily and admit that no matter how either of them rest, they can both agree that we must have it. It’s critical. At a time when school can be overwhelming and our lives are standing before us like a wall of uncertainty, there are times we must slow down. Whether you’re a history major like Parks or a nursing major like North, rest is something we should all strive to experience more of at the back end of this semester. We may fall short and overwork sometimes, but that’s okay.
Illustration by Tamara Friesen