On Doing Nothing

Some serious doing nothing at Holi in India.

Some serious doing nothing at Holi in India.

Or in my case, doing less than I usually do. I’m naturally a doer. If there’s something that needs to be done, I’ll do it. If there’s an adventure to be had, I’ll be first in line. If there’s a problem, yo I’ll solve it. 

I’m also not sure how possible it is to actually do nothing. It would seem that as long as we’re alive we’re doing something. Even if it’s only breathing. And really for how long can or should one person solely focus on their breath without moving? But that’s a philosophical discussion for another time. Or the eternity of life. 

The opposite of doing is being and is equally important. Balance between the two is wholly necessary for a fulfilled life. I’ve written about my struggle to find this balance so I won’t get into it again. Let’s just say while I’ve found more balance, I’m still a work in progress. 

This week I was forced into doing almost nothing. Since my knee was injured, physically I’ve been limited. I can still walk, but it gets tired and aches if I’m on it for two long and bending is limited. I’m in the midst of training for a half marathon and made the very adult choice to put a hopefully temporary halt to that. There’s still that part of me that thinks, “I can probably run through the pain.” But truth be told, I’m also probably not winning that half marathon, so why?   

I’ve had to keep reminding myself that the long term goal is to make it into my senior years still being able to mostly move my body. That means resting it when it asks to be rested now. 

Now here’s some proper doing!

Now here’s some proper doing!

Certainly I have plenty of non-physical activities to keep me busy doing things. But truth be told often when I’ve physically injured myself it’s because I’ve had too much going on mentally and emotionally. It seemed that my whole being and life was telling me to slow my roll. And in the past when I haven’t listened to that message, things usually get worse.

So this time I listened. Sunday and Monday I binged the entirety of Stranger Things and Mindhunter while resting and icing my knee. I’ve never watched so much TV in my life! Usually I lose interest after a bit even if I really enjoy the show. Weirdly enough I felt rejuvenated not having to think of anything all that serious. Well, if you consider science fiction horror and true crime not that serious. I did a little work, but very little. And felt no guilt in not doing more. Which is quite unusual for me.

Come Tuesday and the rest of the week, I did have to do some actual work, but I kept the movement therapy to a minimum and when I didn’t have to be on my feet, I rested. I gave the Netflix a rest and read simply for pleasure. Well, if you consider a book about apartheid pleasure reading. Somehow Trevor Noah has pulled that off with Born a Crime. I highly recommend it!

I also wrote. Played some chess and video games. Made pizza. Meditated. Researched and booked some travel plans. Sat in a pool. Visited friends. Googled “how to exercise with a busted knee” and then didn’t exercise. Basically adult slumber partied all week (Aside from the meditation. I can’t imagine that being a thing at most slumber parties.).  

And it was life changing! I don’t know if I’ve ever done almost nothing for as long as I did this week. Even when I go on vacation, I’m not one to sit on the beach for more than a day (If you’re lucky.). And I didn’t even feel guilty or the need to do more. 

Here’s the King of doing nothing!

Here’s the King of doing nothing!

Instead I felt rejuvenated. There’s something about simply being that feeds your soul. The irony of being is that it doesn’t turn you into the sloth I feared it would. Rather, it allows you to simply know what to do when it’s time to do it. There’s no forcing anything. There are no icky feelings. Everything just is as it should be and pieces fall into place. I swear I got more clients and projects this week playing video games and eating pizza than I have when I’ve spent 40 hours on my marketing strategy. Hmmm… See ya Instagram!

This isn’t to say I’m going to spend all of my weeks like this. If I were to do that the scales would tip in the other direction and there’d be other problems to deal with. Plus if I have new clients, that means I have to spend time seeing them. And I’m really not going to be happy with my race time if I don’t train at all for it. 

But I’ve been reminded of some important lessons. 

Slow down. Stop and smell those freaking roses. Or else they’ll force me to. With their thorns.

Play. Ironic since I focus a lot of my business around helping others relearn how to play. But I have to play too. In my free time and at work. Very little needs to be all that serious.

And I don’t have full control over my life and everything that happens in it. I don’t know how long this injury will take to heal. Or what else life will throw at me. All I can control is my response to what is thrown at me.

And that sometimes being is the doing we have to do. Is that Dr. Suess enough for today?