Exiliado: On Rest

Jonathan Pizarro
4 min readMar 28, 2023

My father would mark the beginning of a holiday by taking off his watch. Sitting at the table outside the caravan with a view of the sea, he would remove the strap from his wrist and place it firmly on the table, next to a bottle of beer and some tapitas. In the summer sun, the white mark would disappear and tan with the rest of him. It was a reminder, when the watch went back on, of a moment of his life not marked by time. It was an intention, and that intention was rest.

I do my best to set boundaries in my life. Balance is the buzzword. The usual things. Not checking emails before or after a certain time. Removing apps from my phone. I am so detailed in the use of my free time. When I will write. When I will read. When I will go to the gym or see friends or run or visit the library. I looked at my calendar the other day, and my free time doesn’t look so different from my work.

And most importantly, I talk about rest and I think about rest and I long for rest but I don’t rest. The pile of books in the house feels so foreboding that I can barely keep my concentration to get through one. My novel manuscript looms over me. And the demons of unfinished week are unforgiving demons indeed. Never the journey. Always the achievement. Never the joy. Always the next thing. Lest you stop for a moment and you are forgotten. Your time passed. You’ll never be published again.

Harnessing these demons can be useful. They encourage creativity and doing things. Sometimes I am so weighed under by expectation I have only created for myself, that I end up doing nothing, and then spend the rest of the time feeling guilt because I did nothing.

Do I need to schedule my rest?

I love reading on planes. I can get through 50–100 pages depending on the length of the flight. Getting to America, it is sometimes an entire novel. Thinking about it, what I am most grateful for is the quiet. I am not surrounded by my unread books. My television is not there, telling me I have six different watchlists on six different streaming platforms and I have barely touched them. And new releases, don’t forget those. No social media to scroll through, the thump a constant flip upwards to the next hit of something funny or clever or inspiring, or depressing.

So my problem is noise. The anxiety that if you put your phone down for a minute you’ll miss an email, a phone call, a message. And those expectations that you must reply straight away. Those ‘gentle reminders’, those passive-aggressive question marks.

When my father was at home he never picked up the phone. It would ring and ring and he would let it ring. Sometimes it was my grandmother. “Chiquillo,” she would say, if I had been the one shamed into picking up. “I could have been dying here and you wouldn’t have known.” I never drew up the bravery to reply by telling her maybe if she was dying she should call an ambulance.

Rest is good for creativity. I know this although I don’t do it as much as I should. Write in a notebook. Go somewhere with terrible wifi. Turn off your phone. Read one book at a time, give away the rest. I would say all of these are aims and goals but then my brain starts firing away with productivity. All those helps that tell you when to rest and how. Make sure you check in every day to tell them how rested you are.

I think this Easter I’ll spend a day in bed. Delete my social media apps. And take off my watch.


I cannot believe it’s been a year since I wrote on here. It seems I have people subscribing and reading old posts too (66 subscribers?!), which is heartening.

I write a column in the Gibraltar Chronicle but there’s something about writing on here too. It’s more accessible. I can write about nothing. I’ll also be writing more about writing (and not writing), creativity, ideas, culture, faith, family, colonialism, language etc. All the little nerdy things I’m interested in that I hopefully write in a way that also makes them interesting to you. We’ll see how it goes, which is a nice feeling. I’ll be posting old columns too, and giving them a tweak. I think every two weeks on a Tuesday will be nice. Thanks for reading.

  • Exiliado will also be free, but you can support me and my work by clicking the image below:



Jonathan Pizarro

Queer Llanito writer exiled in London. Entre dos aguas. Fiction in Untitled:Voices, Fruit Journal & Emerge Literary Journal. Twitter: @JSPZRO