Today millions of people ran around very, very busy. They were at work early in the morning and then after a productive workday, they came home to their children and cooked and cleaned with barely a moment’s rest. Or they went out with friends or on dates.
Because they did stuff. Truly.
Me? I didn’t feel 100% and it was my day off and so I decided that I really don’t feel like doing anything. I knew it would be hard but I decided that once in a while it’s OK not to do anything.
In my doing nothing, here is what I did:
- Cleaned the toilet
- Read articles online
- Read my book
- Took a shower
- Neatened up my apartment a little
- Worked for one hour
- Brainstormed for my writing (mind-maps, etc.)
- Did some research for a friend
- Wrote some emails
- Did long distance bikur cholim
- Talked on the phone
Once it wasn’t so hot out, I went out to the bench in front of my building with my mind-map notebook, a pen, my book and my cell phone and I sat there alternating between these items as I pleased, also taking many breaks to watch the people going by. A neighbour came over to talk to me and we ended up schmoozing for a while.
Needless to say, this was one of the loveliest days ever.
I know what you’re thinking (maybe). How is it that I did so much and yet I’m considering it a day when I did nothing? But as far as I was concerned, if nothing I did was on my “should” to-do list, it was as if I did nothing.
Throughout the day I actually kept wondering how I was getting away with such a lazy day.
The reason I have all that guilt is because I am living by a set of rules made up by who-knows-who. They are about being super-duper productive and super-duper busy. You have to feel like you don’t have time for the small things and you have to feel like time is zipping by – or else you’re a lazy bum.
But why do most of us subscribe to those rules without giving them a second thought? Just because someone in the western world has told us to try to get a million big and important things done every day, doesn’t mean they are right. What about all those people in the rest of the world who just hang out at home in the evenings? What about those people who don’t have an extremely ambitious to-do list?
It’s not that I believe we should waste our lives away. Our lives are precious. But the question is, what does it mean to do something? For example, I know that many people think that daydreaming is doing nothing. But if any of the things you do in your life necessitate brain work, daydreaming is probably an important part of your work. Sometimes you’ve just got to think. I know that with my work and my writing and also with personal things in my life, I just need to be given the head space to think. I often need to be alone for this and stare into space or do “lite” activities like reading or cooking and stop periodically to make notes regarding the issue at hand.
But I barely give myself the chance to just do whatever I want because I’m scared I can’t be trusted with that. It’s as if I believe that my true self is an irresponsible child and I need to be my own parent, since I, the child, can’t be trusted to make decisions for myself.
Why the fear? Especially considering the fact that I see that almost all of my lazy activities (for example thinking, reading, cooking) lead to productive activities (for example a blog post).
And that is actually what happened today. Among other things, because I let myself just do whatever I felt like doing, I ended up brainstorming on this idea of “doing nothing” and ended up with this blog post as a result.