The Art of Doing Nothing (and squeezing in a smallish nap or two)…

Loving, Living, Coordinating – it’s all an art form in some way or another. An individual interpretative dance of sorts. As a whole, it seems like we must be busy doing something – scheduling more chaos, planning predicaments, in order to feel some shred of accomplishment. Before we know it, we are falling victim to our own impossible-to-please self judgements and ill-tempered inside voices. Slowly turning fetal under the self-induced pressure to be productive and in dire need of a nap.

We are like the White Rabbit – hopping from task to task, errand to errand, reciting “I’m late, I’m late” in between heart palpitations and caffeine fixes. Never once stopping to smell the freshly painted roses before the Red Queen called Time lops our head off.

I fall into this rabbit hole often. Tumbling through the pages of paper days filled with lessons, appointments, work schedules, class schedules, ball games, horse shows and pub shows. I fill in the blanks for my family months at a time in advance, referencing two different web sites for Big D and multiple electronic calendars necessary for raising Hell. I have my entire life color coded by family member in my iPhone and on the desk blotter in my office. No matter where I may be on any given day, I am alerted and reminded (to death – it feels like sometimes) as to where I need to be in the next 30 minutes. I awake every morning to an email (from myself – how sick is that?) mapping out each and every stop along this tour, day in and day out.

Every once in a while, I stumble upon a blank square. No scribbles. Empty. Nada.

Of course, my inner nasty nay-sayer perks up to remind me in her cheerful, sarcastic way, “Clearly, you fucked up and forgot to log something in!” I scan my gray matter as I simultaneously swipe through my phones memory in a self-induced sense of panic.

Nothing? Really? A day “off”?

A parade of glittery confetti and streamers float around in my now short-circuiting cranium, the heavens part and angels serenade me in a lovely chorus of Hallelujahs. I double-check to make certain I’m not looking at the wrong square or someone else’s page of paper days. Not a fluke – This is really happening. NOTHING is really happening.

The hyper-active housekeeper in me chimes in, “Great! Now you can do the floors, and deep clean the stove, scrub that fuchsia mystery stain off the counter in the girls’ bathroom and shampoo the carpets.” The creative writer interjects, “After that – you can work on your book and catalog your journals according to chapter and inspirational bits of genius.” The sex kitten purrs, “But before you climb into bed, you really should slather yourself in that brown sugar and honey body scrub, shave your ENTIRE body and give your husband a blow job. You know if you don’t, one of those desperate hookers in the pubs will!” I attempt to hush all the voices with my best Winnie The Pooh impersonation, ” Let’s begin by taking a smallish nap or two.”

As always, after a delicious and well deserved cat-nap, the shame-induced guilt dance begins. Why do we do this? Why do we beat ourselves up for doing nothing? For savouring the nothingness of a much needed, unscheduled day?

The Italians have a phrase, l’arte di non fare niente’. Translated, the art of doing nothing.

This phrase means more than lounging around on your couch watching bad reality TV all day. Although, if that’s what you want to do, do it! Remember, there’s no judgement here. This art form is about doing something, ONE thing, simply for the pleasure of doing that ONE thing. Carve out time to do nothing in the form of a two hour window during the week or once a month, all day long. Whether it is a twenty-minute nap in the car while waiting to fetch your up-and-coming over achiever from a lesson or enjoying a glass (or three) of wine after the day has wound down to a dull roar, after some time the nothings amount to something.

These perceived insignificant, unproductive blank spaces in a society of Go-Getters are just as important as making sure our children live up to their potential and our spouses slumber in a sex-induced, sedated state at night. These undefined, zero calorie sweet treats are crucial for those of us that find ourselves juggling fifteen different things while running in place on a treadmill to shed that last 10 pounds. Blank squares are imperative to our survival and success as rock wives to be able to stop, catch our breath and not feel those twinges of guilt stab us in the side, chipping away at our self-esteem and self-worth.

If something’s going to stab me in the side, it better be a tattoo needle. I am well over-due for some permanent art and the catharsis of an all day ink session. I had better go fill in a square for that right now. In the meantime, take a few minutes to flip through your pages of days and make sure you have left some blank squares. After all, you work hard. Don’t you think you deserve a huge helping of nothing?

Horns Up, Lovers.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Amy Pfair
    Oct 14, 2012 @ 19:39:20

    I make a point of blocking off one “do nothing and rest afterward” chunk of time each week! We (those of us out living the shit out of each and every day and bolstering that passion in the fruit loops of our loins) NEED it to stay sane inside insanity and keep the public at large a wee bit safer. But just a wee bit…


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