You know what our problem is in these modern times?
We don’t do enough of Nothing, that’s what.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the first to identify this problem, and there are other people who have said it far better than I ever could.
“What is this life, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare”…
…Said the poet some years ago, and I think the guy was on to something. Didn’t quite get it right, if you ask me, for I would much rather sit and stare (or ooh, even better, recline), but still. The man was certainly on the right track. Definitely had his head screwed on right.
One of my favorite cartoons has Calvin, possibly the most delightful creation of the 20th century, musing to Hobbes that “there’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want”. And while that is indubitably true, my point today runs in the opposite direction. Not only is there never enough time to do all the nothing you want, we actively run in the opposite direction. We always seek to be doing something.
We seek appointments, create to-do lists, schedule meetings, set targets, establish goals, and form teams. Forget nature abhorring a vacuum, we seem to positively dislike it ourselves, especially for that accursed invention: our calendars.
Even our weekends, those painfully tiny oases in the large never-ending desert that is our agenda-bound existence – even they are filled to the brim with List Items to be Ticked Off, not to mention Things To Be Done. Stuff around the house, errands to run, chores to be done – there is not enough, I aver, of nothing in our lives.
And so every now and then, I rebel. I cancel all appointments, I scratch off all the Must Do Monstrosities, and I settle down to an extended session of Do Absolutely Nothing. A seraphic smile on my face, I might balance a large bowl of chips on my midriff while I surf the channels. A song in my heart, I might traipse across Pune’s verdant hills. A melody on my lips, I might listen to song after song after song. Why, sometimes I will listen to the same song on loop for hours together. There are very many ways to do nothing – many paths to nirvana, if you will – but all prove to be equally effective, if done for long enough.
For as your body could do with the occasional fast, as your muscles could do with the occasional respite from the gym, so also could your life do with the occasional day that is (really and truly) off.
And so, having finished perusing this column, dear reader, I would advise you to do the following. Cancel every single last thing that you had set out to do off your list, and proceed to have a day of Nothing.
Do it however you like, for to each his own, but do not deviate from the objective at hand.
Which, I will remind you once again, is To Do Nothing.
He doesn't expect the paradox to be resolved in his lifetime