The summer is my season. I was born in the heart of summer, early August in Ft. Gordon, Georgia. I approach the preceding summer months with consideration and reflection of the past year and the year ahead. However, taking this pause can be difficult. On any given day, I feel like I’m moving a mile a minute. I’m planning, responding, orchestrating, organizing, providing, caring, cooking, cleaning, driving, or supporting. Taking a moment of doing nothing can feel unavailable or unreasonable due to endless ‘to-do’ list.
This summer, I head into my forty-fifth year and I’m realizing I’ve likely lived close to half of my life. My reflections this summer helped me to embrace the art of doing nothing. The last several summers, my inventory taking and reflecting also included working on something. One summer it was a side hustle. Other summers it’s been the adjustments of motherhood. I continue the hamster wheel of planning, responding, orchestrating, organizing, providing, caring, cooking, cleaning. Yet all this doing, while giving me the deranged sense of feeling productive, leaves me empty. I’m. Just. Tired.
The art of doing nothing is an intentional act of self-preservation. My time of doing nothing is inconsistent. Some evenings it’s simply watching reruns of Bones, Castle, or Law & Order. Other times, it’s scrolling through Facebook; and other times it is deleting junk email from email account. I’m not always sitting in front of a device. It’s been getting up early in the morning and walking my neighborhood. Lately, it’s peacefully working out or taking a tennis class, or sitting by the side of the pool while my children laugh and play gleefully. In these moments, my goal is not to multitask. I want to focus on the one thing in front of me and simply do that. In doing so, I’ve learned three key insights.
“Sometimes sitting and doing nothing is the best something you can do”
Doing Nothing Isn’t Being Lazy
Let me repeat this for those in the back. You AREN’T LAZY WHEN YOU DO NOTHING! Don’t get caught up in this great big lie that doing nothing is for the unmotivated underachiever. I know you and I see you. You’re doing something all the time. You’re putting others first to the point where they expect it. Doing nothing is an opportunity to take a break and enjoy whatever is in front of you without distraction.
Doing Nothing is More Art than Science
Your nothing doesn’t need to look like my nothing. Your duration, activity, or purpose is yours alone to do as you please. You’re not required to walk away from doing nothing with a life changing epiphany. Doing nothing is for you.
Doing Nothing is Self-Care
Last year I got pretty sick. I let others bully me into doing what they felt was expected of me. Then I got sick. I was told it was most likely stress induced. I was headed to vacation a couple of weeks later. I really did nothing then. It was the perfect time and a time I think about when I need to think of a happy place when life is swirling around me.
I’m not perfect on this artful journey of doing nothing. I work hard to suppress the need to be busy. I try to be aware of how I’m feeling and acknowledge when I’m feeling empty or tired, irritable, frustrated, or sad. “It’s time to do nothing” I say to myself. I don’t let others shame or bully me from it. I stick to the plan. I do whatever is my version of nothing in that moment. And. I. Feel. GOOD!