Perhaps I am reacting to the three family deaths we have experienced lately, reassessing our 'busy-ness' as a society and prioritizing what is really most important... perhaps it is the promise of spring finally arriving that calls us to relax and do nothing but enjoy it... perhaps it the infectious joy of our grandchildren living in the moment... but when I happened upon a magazine article I saved a couple years ago about idling it seemed I was destined to share it here. It has nothing to do with buying and selling real estate... but everything to do with living in it.
This list of ways to enjoy doing nothing is from Tom Hodgkinson, editor of the British magazine The Idler, a man who has devoted his career to the idyllic art of idling. The first 10 on the list are his... I have added number 11, as well as some of my own commentary.
1. Banish the guilt. Our society is so steeped in measuring worth by accomplishments that most of us tend to feel guilty when we are not busy getting stuff done. Aristotle praised the contemplative life... perhaps it's time we lose the shame about lollygagging about and rather recognize its importance. In the words of author Doug King, "Learn to pause... or nothing worthwhile will catch up to you."
2. Choose the right role models. Creativity needs time to flourish. Most great musicians and poets were idlers. Listen to John Lennon or carry a book of poetry with you. Find a moment to stop by a lake or stream, or read a few lines as you ride the bus or wait for a train... then stare out and contemplate.
3. Sketch a flower. ...or a cat stretched out in luxurious relaxation or... it doesn't matter if you 'know how to draw' or not, the act of studying something closely enough to attempt to draw it banishes everything else except your focus and anxieties fall away.
4. Go bumbling. This one really spoke to me because at our Wednesday night family dinner a few weeks ago our son was talking about how he loves to dinker. Tom Hodgkinson defined bumbling as "wandering around without purpose." Our son likes to dinker with things he finds he finds in his bumbling. Although his dinkering may not have a specific purpose in mind it often results in something useful. I would venture to guess that many of the world's simplest and greatest inventions started this way.
5. Play the ukelele. ...or harmonica... or tambourine... or make up songs ...don't 'play music', just 'make music' and let it flow freely and joyfully... our 1 1/2-year-old granddaughter is teaching me about this right now.
6. Bring back Sundays. This idea was actually part of the inspiration for my Wednesdays Unplugged. Most religions have a Sabboth, which I equate with a day of rest from whatever your 'regular work' may be... a day to devote yourself to pleasure and family. Today's society tends to be at work 24/7... take a day off each week to be kind to yourself.
7. Lie in a field. My mother loved studying the clouds, and instilled in me a love of sky gazing. There is something intensely therapeutic about doing nothing but lying on your back, gazing into the sky and listening to the birds sing.
8. Gaze at the clouds. Ok, you don't have to lie on your back to study the clouds. I grew up on a farm in the North Dakota flatlands where you can see for miles and miles and miles. Some of my favorite memories are of standing on the banks of our creek with my dad, watching the storm clouds roll in.
9. Take a nap. Cultures that honor 'siesta time' know the benefits of a daytime nap. Research has shown that a daily nap reduces the risk of heart attack. Closing your eyes in someplace quiet for even five minutes can be restorative.
10. Pretend to meditate. In our Western culture, meditation is usually an acceptable way of doing nothing. Tell people you are going to meditate, then go stare out the window, read or lie down for awhile.
11. Go for a walk. Not a power walk, just a lovely stroll... by yourself or with someone you care about. In Minnesota we have more trails than any other state... along lakes, rivers and streams, through the woods... listen to the sounds around you, smell the aromas, leave the rest of the world behind.
Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results -