I’m not very good at doing nothing. My ideal holiday involves people, activites, museums, sightseeing and the like. The typical picturesque sit-by-a-beach and relax is torturous. Add waterskiing, sailing, beach cricket, kayaking and you’ve got my attention.
Last week I took three days annual leave and went camping with a group of friends from home. The camping trip is a yearly, if not more, trip from the group of 80% teachers enjoying their holidays. My previous life of vomiting words on to a computer screen during the holiday period is no longer and so they invited me into their fold. By the afternoon of the first day (the morning involved driving, setting up a comfortable campsite and lunch), I was making activity suggestions. Frisbee. Kayaking. Tennis. Anything?! A dear friend sitting across from me in our circle of chairs joked, “Mel, you do know how to do nothing, right?”
I laughed – it’s what I do when I don’t know what to say.
As the three days ensued, my usual pace of life took a dramatic shift. I become familiar with ‘doing nothing.’
A how-to guide for people who don’t know to stop and do nothing:
1. Unplug. Email. Social media. Usual phone activities. Don’t pack a phone charger.
2. Step away from your usual situations.
3. Surround yourself with people proficient in doing nothing.
4. Copy them.
5. Copy them some more when they decline your suggestions.
6. Find small activities that to you are something to keep your fingers from fidgeting and your mouth from opening
7. Appreciate the thinking, planning and praying you can achieve in sitting and doing nothing.
While I may have read, painted nails and collected firewood/kindling, for me, that was doing nothing. There is a time for every season and sometimes a slower slower pace is okay. I happily jump from one project to another, one activity, one book, one friend, one bandwagon to another. Life on the go. Live in the moment. Commit to what you’re doing while you’re doing it. But three days away from everything made me see a different approach. I learnt new things about friends I’ve had for more than 7 years, and friends I’ve had for much less than that. Doing nothing is not inefficient. It’s efficient for doing something out of my ordinary.
I don’t think I’ll be changing my pace of life in the near future, but I do want to prioritise moments to do nothing. Moments to reflect, refocus and be thankful.