This morning I have done nothing. At one time in my life (actually, for a large portion of my adult life) that would have felt like a confession; I would imagine myself sitting with strangers in a circle, standing up one by one – “My name is Eve and I have accomplished nothing this morning.” Oh, the shame!
But actually, I take pride in this short declaration. Doing nothing is not shameful, it is a privilege denied to many. It is a privilege shunned by many, actually. Yes, there are people for whom “getting stuff done” is a matter of obligation, but mainly, it is a lifestyle choice. And sometimes, those who moan the most are those that choose it most passionately.
That was me until very recently. I would be the first to complain that I did not have enough space in my life for the luxury of inactivity, that I always had a mountainous to-do list looming over my shoulder. Then, in the next breath, I would hear myself agreeing to take on yet another task, another item to add to the list, all the while begrudgingly complaining that I have no time.
Yet I have now opted into this privilege, this ability to just not “do”. Not indefinitely, not for a limitless amount of my life, just sometimes, and for those some times that I choose this, I no longer feel guilty. This was a decision in aid of which I have had to make significant sacrifices; my role at work has diminished, as has my pay (not that money was ever a major contributing factor); my status and my sense of worth in the workplace have also taken a major hit. But I have, in return, gained precious time and space in my life.
It still does not come naturally; I have to fight the urge to seek out ways to fill this void. For a while, I would have still chosen to do something, even if that was something unfulfilling and with a lack of meaningful purpose, just to avoid spending “dead” time. More recently, however, I sense myself inwardly making judgements about the value of an activity, internal calculations weighing up whether something deserves my investment of precious time. This is meaning that I spend more time doing things that bring me joy or deep satisfaction, and it is also meaning that sometimes, I elect to do nothing. And that is, in itself, often a worthy choice.