Recreation – A Do Nothing Day

(Best of Celebrating Your Journey – October 14, 2011)

To all my readers: With 2019, the 14th year of my Celebrating Your Journey blog articles, “From the Heart” byline, I will be offering the “Best of the Best” articles you found helpful through the years. Many thanks to everyone who have given input and followed along w/ each month’s lifeskill—Relationships/Core Values, Time Mgt, Career/Money Mgt, Recordkeeping, Possessions, Housekeeping, Wellness, Meals, Childcare, Recreation/ Entertainment, Reflection, and Celebration. For my new readers, may these lifeskill articles offer you encouragement, insight, and commitment to seek, reach, and achieve your life dreams and goals in synergy.

“It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.” Does anyone relate to Gertrude Stein’s quick wit here from her Everybody’s Autobiography (1937)? Or do you feel guilty being idle because it feels like you are doing nothing worthwhile?
Activity is all around us every moment of the day. We work. We attend meetings. We go to school. We go grocery shopping. We eat. We mow the lawn. We vacuum our house. We pay the bills. We do our taxes. The “We” activities go on and on.

Floyd Dell, American author and critic (1887-1967), declared that “Idleness is not doing nothing. Idleness is being free to do anything.” Sounds good to me. So, this week I practiced it. Oops! Did I say “I practiced?” Isn’t that an activity in itself? Feels like I am in a circular pattern here! And isn’t “doing” an activity attached to “nothing” also an oxymoron?

Yet, oh what a difference a day of idleness or just “doing nothing” does for the body and soul! So, who cares about the linguistic loopholes here anyway? What kind of “doing nothing” did I do for that day? First, I didn’t touch the computer all day; and that’s a wonder for me! All day long I didn’t “plan” anything; didn’t have a list in my head or on paper. And for those who know me, that’s another wonder!

I lightly drifted outside and sat in my backyard for about an hour … first closing my eyes and even tuning out the freeway noise near my house. With a Koi pond in my backyard, I listened to the little waterfall and stream sounds flowing into the pond. Watched the Koi leisurely move around occasional leaping frog or two. Saw for the first time this Fall a vibrant-colored American Goldfinch visit our bird feeder, along with a hummingbird nearby trying out a flowering sage bush.

I then simply wondered into the house and visited the couch and very soon fell asleep. Don’t know how long I slept. I woke up hungry and made myself a glass of milk with a scrumptious almond butter, banana, raisin, blueberry spread, cottage cheese, and honey sandwich on whole wheat bread. I haven’t had one for a long time. Every swig of milk between each bite made me feel like an eight year old kid again!

What did I do next with my “do nothing” day? I turned TV on and watched four episodes in a row of the old 1980s mystery show, “Matlock.” It was so much fun that I watched a fifth one! By that time, the evening sky began to shine with stars. I puttered around picking up a few clothes to put away, then a few books lying around, dusted furniture a little here and there, no more no less. Had a light dinner of leftovers, leisurely walked down to the mailbox and enjoyed the cooler evening along the way. With my day of “doing nothing” coming to an end, I fluffed up my bed pillows, got comfortable, read a few minutes, and fell fast asleep.

You are probably asking yourself right now, “How was that a do nothing day?” Good question! My day illustrates that a “do nothing” day is in the eyes of the “do nothing” person. Everyone has a different way to relax and chill. Sometimes, the do nothing day may consist of only one thing, sleep! For others, the range is infinite. What do you consider a “do nothing” day for you? How do you share it…with yourself, spouse, friend, your child? Do nothing days can be some of the most memorable in your life when it offers you the chance to wind down and give yourself that moment to recharge your “want to”. For so many of us, we run on “shoulds” most of the time that eventually wear us out. We then risk losing sight of what is really important in our lives that offers a sense of purpose and place in everyday life.

So, if you haven’t had a “do nothing” day lately, make room for one this coming week or weekend. Here are a few more samples of “do nothing” perspectives to consider as you start your “do nothing” day.

  • “Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” Pooh’s Little Instruction Book, inspired by A. A. Milne
  • “You have to allow a certain amount of time in which you are doing nothing in order to have things occur to you, to let your mind think.” Mortimer Adler
  • “Never lose sight of this important truth, that no one can be truly great until he has gained a knowledge of himself, a knowledge which can only be acquired by occasional retirement.” Johann Georg von Zimmermann