I haven’t been doing much recently.
Especially the last few days. I’ve been feeling a little under the weather. This means a lot of lying on the strangely comfortable floor under a blanket.
I nap, and play games, and read, and write a bit here and there, and FaceTime my family, and in moments of tremendous ambition, go out for a meal or some exercise.
There’s some big part of me that feels pretty defensive about this. To answer “nothing” to the inevitable “what did you do this weekend?” feels like a betrayal of conversation itself. It feels almost passive-aggressive, like I’m withholding something, or else it feels like a cry for help with a life that needs filling.
Another driver is the problem with many names: FOMO (fear of missing out). Or, if you enjoy incredible long German words, Torschlusspanik (gate closing panic)—the fear, as night draws in, that you won’t make it back inside the city gates before the gates close at curfew. Much like a medieval peasant with a dread of being trapped outside with the outlaws, I have a fear of time passing and leaving me behind, and opportunities slamming shut before I had a chance to explore them.
This is, typically, irrational and unwarranted. I am not a medieval peasant, and my future is probably not full of bloodthirsty outlaws. But that’s beside the point.
But doing nothing is also, ironically, something I’ve been wanting to do more of. In recent years I’ve had lots of moments of feeling over-committed, and I hate all the resentment and drama that tends to go. along with that. In times like these, I start to fantasize about what it would be like to have nowhere to be, no tasks that needed completing. All the freedom in the world to do what I please and say yes or no to the whims of the day.
So much of my life is spent caught between these poles, trapped in that in-between, nowhere space between action and inaction, between something and nothing, neither pursuing the relaxation that I crave nor getting tasks done, but feeling increasingly awful as I play infinite levels of a mobile game that is throwing my entire nervous system out of whack and making me nauseous.
The goal is to find that space of beautiful nothing-doingness, where I produce nothing of external value and I enjoy the minutes as they pass. Where I’m free to do exactly what is right at that moment.
This weekend, that’s looked a lot like lazy floor time. It also looked like writing this, rather than some rather more involved (and possibly more interesting) posts. But this weekend has also looked a lot like contentment, so I want for nothing.
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2 thoughts on “On doing nothing.”
I love this, Kate! I feel the same way. It’s about “being” instead of “doing”.
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