Discover more from The Temple of the Body in the World by Michaela Boehm
A Change is as Good as a Rest
The Palate Cleanser for Relationship
I love a good proverb! In my twenties while living in Vienna, I had this incredibly talented writer friend, whom I adored. We used to go on walks by the canal and amuse ourselves by holding an entire conversation using just stock phrases, proverbs, idioms and tropes.
The game was to see how long we could keep the conversation going and whoever broke the thread lost the game and had to buy the post walk coffee.
I can still feel the exhilarating joy of these walks while writing this. We’d stop to catch our breath from howling laughter, we’d argue over the correct use of a phrase, we’d heckle each other, trading insults - still within the rules of the game and often we’d end up discussing the finer points of some proverb - or insult - over drinks at our favorite Viennese Coffeehouse.
I’ve always been a voracious reader, but in the lead up of these walks I’d scour my books for ever more outlandish phrases and buy collections of proverbs and folkloric sayings (this was pre-internet - so no easy google research on the way out the door).
While I admit some of that exhilaration came from spending time with my friend - I’ve always had a soft spot for smart, well spoken writers - most of it came from the pleasure of playing with words and meaning and the resulting “mental workout”.
So to this day, I do love a good proverb. In a sense, proverbs are archetypal expressions, distilled insight rising from the collective unconscious and informing us in a simple, often visceral way.
The “boiled down” wisdom of a proverb, while often stereotypical, can be used as a prompt for inquiry and a hint towards the common ground that connects us in our human experience.
Often such a commonplace proverb can reveal a deeper truth. One of my favorites when it comes to working with relationships is “A Change is as Good as a Rest”.
Originally coined during the British Victorian era as a means of encouraging productivity within the workforce, nowadays it holds an expanded meaning into all manners of life activities.
Beyond the obvious truth that new activities revitalize us and save us from getting stuck in a rut, this proverb can prove useful in the relational realms.
A friend of mine once used this phrase to contextualize his need for multiple “flavors” of experience, a relational palate cleanser of sorts.
While not everyone wants to engage in multiple dating or relationship experiences, the concept of changing things up to revitalize a relationship definitely holds true.
“A Change is as Good as a Rest” not only enlivens the erotic aspect of a relationship, where routine and comfort are the enemy of desire, but also in the wider relational context when mediocrity and boredom lurk behind well established routines and rituals.
We know this instinctively, which is why vacations, new locations, different outfits, haircuts, role play, harmless (or not so harmless) online flirtations and the likes are commonly used to create some freshness and renew excitement.
When we apply this knowledge consciously, it can become a potent relational support.
As a matter of fact, this concept has been an important tool in my couples counseling toolbox for many years.
It’s such a simple concept - so obvious that it’s almost humorous. If you want to feel different, do different things. And I don’t mean complex behavioral changes. Just a slight shift to your routine.
Order a different coffee. Take a different route for a walk. Brush your teeth with the other hand. Go somewhere else for Sunday Brunch. Sleep on the other side of the bed. Dress in a different color. Try a new activity. Read something new. Listen to someone else's playlist. Hell, live dangerously and switch the direction of your toilet paper roll!!
I’m not talking about life shifting change, I’m simply suggesting you slightly alter your everyday routines and rituals - enough to shake you awake.
Once you are no longer sleep walking in the rut of daily activities the possibilities are endless. When you have gained an embodied understanding of what slight changes do to the entire system, you can apply that knowledge everywhere.
You can introduce new activities, new conversations, new ways to connect, new adventures and new erotic explorations into your relationship. It doesn't really matter what it is - some ideas are abject failures - the only thing that matters is that it is different. It’s simply the change that revitalizes and inspires everything.
And, that brings us back to my writer friend. Our walks were different, a far cry from my usual interactions with friends and when dating. A different part of me came out to play. For days after I would be filled with vibrant energy, creative focus and sometimes bubble over with mischief and glee. A change that even as a memory fills me with vibrant joy and energy.
So go ahead. Change something. Feel what happens.
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Next week: “Variety is the Spice of Life” - how we can embody different expressions to enhance our relational experience.