Father Eugene Hemrick

Wintery skies, perpetual rain and cold dampness typified my family visit to Lake Oswego, Oregon.

I had expected to return to Washington, D.C., after a two-week trip. Instead, a minor medical problem delayed me for a month and a half.

Being with family was wonderful. Not so wonderful was restlessness because my usual home routine was absent.

In the book, “Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life … and Maybe the World,” retired Adm. William H. McRaven counsels, “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.”


This advice was just what I needed to cope with restlessness.

As much as we tend to procrastinate with certain tasks, when we embrace them as therapy for overcoming restlessness, they help us focus outside ourself and away from distasteful situations.

After practicing making my bed first thing in the morning, I began searching for other tasks to do. Suddenly I remembered my mother’s motto: Never let the weather stop you.

Bundling up and grabbing my umbrella, I had my next task: taking a walk in the rain. On it, I came across elderly persons walking in the rain enjoying the outdoors despite inclement weather.

That experience put me into a task-searching mood.

My next task was to read a chapter daily of “Washington: A Life,” a biography about President George Washington by Ron Chernow.

Then came the practice of emailing friends I had not contacted in some time.

Reading and emailing, however, caused me to sit too much and become stiff. So I made it a task to walk around the house periodically looking for things to clean or repair.

As tasks multiplied, so did my restlessness decline. Reflecting on this experience, I realized one cause of restlessness comes from being out of rhythm: a vitalizing order is missing.

In music, it is important to intone the first notes as perfectly as possible to get into a good rhythm. So, too, in life starting the day with an energizing task is one way to create a vitalizing order leading to other such order.