October 14, 2013

Doing Nothing Monday

"Save the World - Do Nothing"
Think of the personal stress and environmental damage we could avoid if
we did nothing more often.

Many summers ago I was camping with a group of friends, and our music and merriment stretched into the early morning. A woman emerged from the tent on the site next to us. In her house coat, she approached our campfire.

"When do you people stop?" she asked while throwing her hands towards the sky as the stars quietly disappeared.

We all looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders. "Do we stop?" someone honestly asked.

"I don't think we do," another friend observed.

It is the same with our culture of busyness, formerly known as The Rat Race. Now it is just the race.

When do we stop?

People often confuse busyness with doing something.

Lao Tzu, the chilled out Chinese philosopher didn't. Ever mindful, the author that wrote the Tao Te Ching, said, "Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing."

How much of our busyness is doing nothing? Or worse, how much of it is not only unnecessary, but also harmful to ourselves and others?

Since 2008 Linda and I have been experimenting with doing less with less. We stopped the busyness. We started doing more nothing.

Prior to the Great Recession we were already working toward a more peaceful lifestyle. We quit working full time and threw away our  planners and day-timers. Thus ended the perpetual multi-tasking state of mind that needs organized distractions in order to recover.

Leisure activities and holidays can be just as busy and frantic as back home. When do we stop? Or even slow down?

Our culture is obsessed with busyness. It is a drug to which many are addicted, and the repercussions prevent us from doing the important work.

Since slowing down we focus on single-tasking. It is a "when eating a banana, just eat the banana" state of mind.


  1. Anonymous10/15/2013

    Doing nothing is wonderful. I had to train myself to do it and now I can't imagine doing without it. Frequently I get asked if I find it boring doing nothing. My response is that now I see our resident chipmunk gathering seeds on his tour through the backyard. and on this tour he will sometimes spread himself flat out at the end of my lounge and enjoy the sun. Once in a while he will look at me and then resume his sunbathing. He will sometimes do this for 15 minutes. I would have missed this if I were "busy". The squirrels do this also but at the top of the telephone pole, their little paws hanging over the edges. I have timed them at 35 minutes. My cat is an indoor cat but she comes out with me to the backyard and does a small round of her favourite sniff spots. She comes at once when I call her. Watching her try to catch the chipmunk is hilarious. She is an elderly cat but her instincts are there, if not the agility. ( I would never let her harm our chippie) All this I would have missed if I were following one of my former to do lists.
    When I was working there were some slack times and we would have to pretend to be doing something to keep the bosses happy. It was very stressful. How long can you keep on being busy while doing nothing ?.
    Work has its place but just sitting still and absorbing the sounds around me makes me truly feel at one with the earth.
    I recently found your blog and find it very refreshing.

  2. Marilona,

    What a wonderful description of taking some down time to enjoy life as it unfolds. Thank you for sharing.

    Watching nature is one of our passions. We live 30 ft off the beach in an estuary and there is ALWAYS something to see. Right now there are salmon returning to the river and leaping from the harbour as they make their way to their birthplace.

    You are right - you have to go slow, or stop, to really get in touch with the earth. It is a worthwhile effort.

  3. Hey this comic relevant for today.


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