In 2001, Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig published The Curly Pyjama Letters, a small book of letters between two friends – Mr Curly of Curly Flat and lone voyager, Vasco Pyjama. Leunig’s characters and witticisms have featured in the press for years, yet this book was (and still is) my only purchase of Leunig’s works – here’s why.
In one letter to his friend Mr Curly, Vasco bemoans the world he finds on his travels and poses the seemingly unanswerable question “What is worth doing and what is worth having?” to which Mr Curly replies:
In answer to your question “What is worth doing and what is worth having?” I would like to say simply this. It is worth doing nothing and having a rest…otherwise you will become RESTLESS!
I believe the world is sick with exhaustion and dying of restlessness…Tiredness is one of our strongest, most noble and instructive feelings. It is an important aspect of our CONSCIENCE and must be heeded or else we will not survive. When you are tired you must HAVE that feeling and you must act upon it sensibly – you MUST rest like the trees and animals do.
Yet tiredness has become a matter of shame!…Tiredness has become the most suppressed feeling in the world. Everywhere we see people overcoming their exhaustion and pushing on with intensity…and being congratulated for overcoming it and pushing it deep down inside themselves as if it were a virtue to do this…We live in a world of these consequences and then wonder why we are so unhappy.
So I gently urge you Vasco, do as we do in Curly Flat – learn to curl up and rest – feel your noble tiredness – learn about it and make a generous place for it in your life and enjoyment will surely follow. I repeat: it’s worth doing nothing and having a rest.
Mr Curly xxx
Extract from The Curly Pyjama Letters by Michael Leunig
Back in 2001, having ended every work week in exhaustion only to face a commitment-filled weekend stretching ahead of me, this struck such a chord. I have just started on a two month project in digital media, a sector entirely new to me, and I have spent three days brimming over with the thrill of learning something new and the joy of making things happen…but my head is full and and my whole self tired. So this reminder about being generous with myself is timely and this weekend…
I am going to do nothing
will be having a rest.