“Don't underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear and not bothering.” ~ Winnie the Pooh
I like doing nothing. Sometimes its frowned upon and I’m not sure why. Doing nothing is relaxing, fun and easy.
Doing stuff, on the other hand, is overrated:
1. It’s tiring.
2. It doesn’t usually amount to much.
3. It usually leads to the doing of more stuff.
4. It often requires a needless, overpriced gym membership.
5. We’re all going to be maggot food anyway.
Back in the day, people sat around in rocking chairs on their porches and drank lemonade all afternoon. They were totally down with doing nothing. People took "Sunday drives" and the term "lazy afternoon" was invented. Time went by more slowly so days lasted about twice as long.
Even further back, people sat around naked in the forest, doing nothing. Sure, they hunted for food and foraged and stuff. But that was just so they could eat their meat and berries and get back to sitting in a circle, doing nothing, naked.
Now, we’re like manic little gerbils on electrified running wheels. I say the madness must end.
Cavemen, keeping it simple.
There was a time I too thought doing things mattered. I did things for decade upon decade - for other people, for money, to feel accomplished. Then one day I said to self, “What the fuck am I doing?”
So I just stopped and have felt happier since…well, not really. But I’d rather be unhappy doing nothing than doing a lot of something. Then I’m unhappy and tired on top of it.
I prefer doing nothing alone but sometimes I do nothing with other people. If we have to do something, we get a little annoyed. But we do it anyway, so we can get back to doing nothing again...together.
Guess what I'm doing?
Sleep is a good example of doing nothing and is by far the most interesting part of the day. You never know what’s going to happen, who you’re going to meet and what magical powers you may possess. I like to think of my waking hours as a 16-hour preparation for going back to sleep.
People do stuff to succeed, to be somebody. They strive for money, recognition, stature, attention. But they’re still unhappily married or wax nostalgic about days when they were broke and happier or have some weird closeted fetish that consumes all their time or they shoplift earrings at Nordstrom’s.
At this point, I consider it a success if I make it through the day. That’s not intended to sound fatalistic but life is a contentious bitch and you know it. People are dumb and mean you’re always working for the man on some level, relationships usually end (come on…they do. Really. And they usually end badly, to boot.) And we haven’t even gotten to diseases yet. I say give yourself a pat on the back if you’re not shooting smack or buying sturdy rope.
Doing stuff opens you up to all sorts of dangers as well. Once I was riding my bike around the neighborhood, trying to do something, when a big, black Kujo dog ran out and leapt up on me. His slobbery jaws were inches away from my face. I could be noseless as I type these words. I’m not – but I could be. Shit happens all the time.
And stuff just falls from the sky. A substantial number of people have died from pianos falling on top of them; it’s not just in the movies. You’re better off inside, safe, resting, prepping for sleep, where the real action happens.
Historically speaking, busy people have been nothing but trouble: Hitler, Mussolini, Vlad the Impaler (pictured below.) Say what you will about them but they were all on the go. Same with serial killers; busy people with a serious agenda. Buddha, Lassie and Robin Leach? Not so concerned about grabbing the brass ring and look at their level of contentment.
Vlad, getting busy.
Now, I’m not advocating doing absolutely nothing all the time. I’m asking we redefine doing stuff and bring it down a fucking notch, for God’s sake. Really. What are we trying to prove? That we’re winners in the game of life? Well, let me polish up that trophy for you. Do you want it engraved?
Once I stripped a dresser of all of its old paint. Some may consider that a small accomplishment but it remains one of my life’s crowning achievements. I’ll never forget the deep sense of completion I felt when it was finally done. I felt blissfully lost in time, fully alive and technically, not doing a whole lot in the bigger scheme of things. Yet it still beat out some more seemingly relevant moments in my life, like graduating college or winning a contest or watching my baby being born. (I don’t have a baby, but points need to be made.)
So the next time you want to do something, stop. Ask yourself, “Is this really worth it?” Or better yet, “Am I still going to die even though I did this?” The answer will probably be yes (unless doing stuff includes creating an immortality potion. If so, kudos for you, smartie.)
If death is in your future, you may want to consider doing nothing, as a form of preparation. Eternity is a long, long time and you don’t want to tire out too early.