Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Joy of "Doing Nothing"

I have always had a problem with people who seem proud of the fact that "they can't sit still." Or, rather, I feel bad for them that they think it is a virtue to not be able to relax; to, as Whitman sort of put it, loaf and invite their souls. I can see how someone who "can't sit still" might accomplish more than me, in terms of material gain and the like. But, I can accomplish quite a bit, at least by my own standards, sitting still.

Sir Frederick Leighton, 1895
I have heard others talk about their fear of retiring. (A fear, I fear, I might never have to face.) They worry that they won't know what to do with themselves; that they will be bored. I am incapable of being bored, as long as there is a world to observe and a way to record those observations; as long as there is music to make and beauty to appreciate.

Just yesterday, my family went on an excursion without me.

In the morning, I read Margaret Atwood (whose stuff I need to read more of) and drank coffee. After awhile, I napped. After my nap, I worked on my next novel for an hour or two, then I took the dog for a two hour excursion in to the woods. After that excursion, I swam in the pond among the curious trout and the fickle turtles. After the pond, I showered and practiced my Carulli on the guitar. (Not at the same time. The shower is bad for a guitar.) After the guitar, I went out onto the pond in a kayak and watched the sun dropping behind the tree line. I came in and had dinner with my son (who had also stayed behind) and we went out into the back with our gloves and had a catch.

Later, I sat on the dock and listened to the kids next door playing out on the pond; two brothers (sons of two really nice marine biologists), their voices at once big and small, reflecting off of the trees and the water: KID 1, in a kayak; KID 2 on a paddle-board:

KID 1: I'll meet you at the red thing.
KID 2: I know you'll beat me.
KID 1: I'll meet you at the red thing.
KID 2: I said, I know you will beat me...kayaks are faster.
KID 2: Not "beat," meet. M-E-A-T, meet!

By this time, it was evening. The sun was almost down. Tempus fugit when you're doing nothing. 

Okay -- clearly, I wasn't doing nothing. A nap is "nothing," I guess. The rest might have been active stuff. But I sure as heck don't need to work at a job. I guess "doing nothing" is in the eye of the beholder. 

But, man -- I could sure live like this. I know this is a vacation scenario, but the only thing I can't do at home that I did yesterday is swim in the lake. 


  1. To quote myself,

    1. George -- I tried to comment on your blog, but it kept blanking out on me... I agree completely; I also find it cool that we seem to have walked the same conceptual path, so recently. Quite Jungian.