Thursday, August 4, 2011

Do you know how to do nothing?

"... Seeing cannot take place until you pause. Real creativity cannot occur as long as the creative impulse is constantly sublimated into habitual activity. At this late stage of conditioning, doing nothing alone can allow transformation to happen. Yet doing nothing must be based on clarity of vision. Knowing how to pause, not just outwardly, but throughout your being is a consummate art of living. Knowing really how to pause is the action of intelligence itself."

- G. Bluestone via Whisky River

(made by Jill Zaheer lucky MOI!!)
I am alone once again for 5 days. (IF you don't count the 2 piranas on legs guinea pigs I'm baby sitting, the baby hare I've been nursing for 4 weeks, nearly weaned and can release hopefully before the messmonsters get back, our two cats and Cinbad my crazy border collie). 
And here I am, a self confessed list maker, all set to go with my habitual list of things to do: clean the house, wash anything and everything I can get my hands on, make the house look pretty for when everyone comes back (and allow myself the illusion that it will stay that way when they do), go for a two hour bike ride, meditate, practice my guitar, fix my lapis lazuli mala … Sing loudly while painting to my heart's content. Voilà for day one! I'll spare you day two etc ;-)

(Just one of the pieces made by the talented Jill Zaheer for me during LaWendula's Paper swap)
The first part of the list brings me moral satisfaction. Like I've earned my time alone. I deserve it and can justify it. The second part - starting with the bike ride - is just for me. But it's still not doing NOTHING, is it?

Can you do nothing? 
I'd love to find out...

I find it really hard. Although last night I did, after everyone left in a flurry of actitivity.  I just sat, in the silence, watching the sun set over the trees, casting a golden light on the leaves and the prairie east of the house. It felt decadent. Like I shouldn't. It was naughty. Just sitting there. Watching. Breathing. And doing nothing. 

Who was it that said 'Nothing comes from doing Nothing?'  Shakespeare? I've decided to put it to the test? At least for an hour. I'm not sure I could do 'nothing' for much longer without getting darn fidgety, not to mention overcome with guilt! Let's see what I can come up with… What will I dare to find?

(Photo from my inspiration wall: Wise Words chosen by Gigi: to Dare, to Find. A fish hook made entirely of driftwood from a Hokitika artist in New Zealand.)
Doing nothing with clarity of vision: the action of intelligence itself. 
The idea is growing on me.


  1. I love that quote! I do confess, though, that I really cannot do 'nothing' - I go crazy. That's why I think I've taken to crocheting like I was born to it ;) Always having something to do with my hands is so relaxing for me.
    However, one of my favourite things to do is observe... people, things, the clouds moving in the sky etc. Funnily enough, I don't see that as doing nothing even though I'm invariably sitting still... probably because my mind is going at a million miles. Does that make sense? Even meditating is a kind of active awareness. Does anyone really truly do nothing? Perhaps the quote is a 'stop and smell the roses' kind of nothing? Sorry.... I'm rambling here. It's an interesting question though. Great post Ange :) Kx

  2. Rats! Now I'm stuck with that Julie Andrews earworm: "nothing comes from nothing[....]I must have done something good."

    More seriously...I need to take a quiet walk, alone, listen to natural sounds, maybe sit for a while with eyes NOT thinking about the thing I want/need/have to do I can usually get to the place where I can do it.
    Works for me!

  3. Hi Ange,
    Well, I am an expert at 'doing nothing' and, if there was a degree that I could take in it, I would get a 1st with honours !!!! I love my own company and find it easy to sit and contemplate without feeling any guilt at all. Don't get me wrong, I'm not lazy but, I think that everyone should take time out for themselves.
    I have never understood this 'I must achieve x ammount of things in a day' attitude, When I'm gone, will eveyone think that I was a better person because I fitted more into each day than the next person? NO. I believe that contentment is so important for the body, mind and soul and that is different for each individual. I have friend's who try to do so much each day and end up doing most of them badly.
    OK, there's my look on that particular subject and I'm off now to have a cup of tea !!
    By the way, our daughter has just got back from celebrating her 30th birthday in Paris !! It's alright for some !!
    Oh dear, I wish I hadn't made this comment now.....everyone will think that I sit around all day with my feet up while someone peels grapes for me !! XXXX

  4. I specialise in nothing - but it is usually amongst the cacophony of three bickering boys! How I dream to do nothing in peace. Enjoy! xx

  5. I think I am a little too good at doing nothing! I sometimes wish that I was one of those people who has to always be doing something. However, I suppose I'm much more serene this way! Enjoy your you time x

  6. Doing nothing works best when you get into a happy unthinking state in which you're not aware of doing nothing. Otherwise the conscious awareness of the nothingness brings with it the thought of the tasks that could fill the nothingness. Less philosophically, often I do so much and get nothing done. Enjoy the peace, Ange! Boost the bike ride up the list!

  7. I was married to a man who believed that one should never do nothing because there was always something to do. He didn't accept that doing nothing is good for the soul.

    We are now divorced and I can do nothing in peace (when the boys are not around). I like doing nothing sometimes - I listen to my body's needs and when I have to take time out to sit and contemplate then I do my best to do it.

    I always have stuff to do, but I need the time out to sit quietly and 'rest my weary soul' (as a single mother with a full-time job and spare-time writer!).

    The fact that I no longer have a man living with me helps a lot, I must say.

  8. ummm.... no...... working on it though.. or rather... mr la dolce vita is teaching me to take weekends off... xo
    i like the quote...

  9. 'we're busy doing nothing, nothing the whole day through, trying to find lots of things not to do...'

    you've set that song off in my head and I can't place where it's from.

    I love doing nothing, no time these days xxx

  10. It used to be that I couldn't just sit and do nothing. And then one day, I just decided that why not? Life's short. If I want to do nothing, so be it.
    Hugs and love!

  11. ive been working with this for awhile now....
    its getting easier.
    doing nothing is still "be-ing"
    ~laura xx

  12. I tried doing nothing - I was reading a book called The Joy Diet and that was the first thing we were taught to do. I'm afraid I'm not very good at switching off! Enjoy your freedom for a few days - healthy and good for you - but you know you'll be ready for them to come back :)


Can't think of a famous quote that says 'communication makes the world go round' so you 'll just have to get my clumsy way of putting it instead ;-) Your comments are precious. Thanks for dropping by!