Help wanted: Show me (again) how to do nothing at all…

When young, we all used to be good at this. What happened?

Trust Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes, to remind us what really matters in life.

As kids, we had no difficulty in filling our time with completely esoteric, fantastic stuff that had no measurable value in the adult world…what the grown-ups would describe as ‘unproductive’ (a very subjective term!). We all specialised in the art and science of goofing off, and our school vacations and even weekends were all filled with…doing nothing in particular!

What happened? I’m still not sure if I’ve grown up – my own child and close friends are convinced I haven’t – but I no longer seem to have the time or skill to just hang loose, goof off and do absolutely nothing at all. Even if I rest my tired body, my mind wanders in all sorts of directions. Even my dreams are too dramatic, layered and nuanced.

When I browse, I find whole heaps of books and websites that offer to teach me how to do nothing. From Zen to Chinmoy to Robin Sharma, everyone is offering wisdom about nothing. But I hesitate. I don’t want structured, step-by-step guidance that feels like…a personal development course.

I want to unwind. I want to just take it easy, get completely and hopelessly lost in my day dreams and have no care in the world. At least for a few days every year. I’ve not done that for a long, long time.

So I need help to re-learn how to do nothing at all, and to enjoy that without any feeling of guilt about lost time or opportunities. I want a friend – furry like Hobbes or otherwise – who can help me in this journey of re-discovery.

Busybodies need not apply. Ditto grown-ups.

Hakuna matata!

Don’t just do something, sit there!

Feb 2008

Dumbo, Nalaka and Spacey on writing retreat, Phuket, Thailand: Feb 2008

Don’t just sit there
Do something!

So the advice flows:
Don’t idle your life away!

Pack something, anything
into every waking moment!

Sleep an hour or two less
and gain months of life!

Don’t be a lazy bum
who’s good for nothing!

Time wasted
is time lost forever!

Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Blah, blah, blah!

Tell me what’s wrong
in goofing off
once every now and then
so that my mind roams
while my body rests?

Why must I run races
with others, or even
my very own self
every day and every night?

Listen, world!
I’m plain and simple tired
of filling all my time
with meaning and productivity.
So I’ve adopted a new motto
which goes like this:

Don’t just do anything,
Sit there!

Image above is a self portrait taken with my travelling buddies Dumbo and Spacey in Phuket on my 42nd birthday, Feb 2008. Captured with my Nokia phone.

Photograph by Nokia Gunawardene