Have you ever been to Exit 0?
I have. You know, one of those exits that lets you know you’re at the end of the road. Not virtually or figuratively, but REALLY. No more road. That’s it. You’re done.
A few month ago, we took a trip to the Cape May Zoo in New Jersey. Cape May, of course, is right down at the very bottom of the state. It’s a Victorian wonderland for anyone like myself who likes that type of architecture; and the ocean is just perfect any time of the year.
My son and daughter-in-law Rob and Lisa were taking the girls, Julia and Marisa to see the animals. Grammy and Gramps came along for the day. Silly how all of us have smartphones, and no one bothered looking up directions. So, we ended up at Exit 0.
Actually we should have exited sooner than that. At Exit 11, to be precise. So, we had to backtrack which was a nice ride up Route 9. Very rural, and very pretty.
We then spent about 4 hours walking through the zoo and being amazed at all the wildlife living there. Most of the animals were sitting or perched or laying down or just stopped (like the giraffes) out in their fields. They weren’t DOING anything.
I don’t profess to know what goes on in an animal’s brain; be that as it is, I’m thinking much of what takes place is purely instinctual. They sleep, eat, play, and hunt for food. Those in the zoo don’t need to hunt at all; so much of their day is given over to merely sitting and observing.
Now, that’s a novel concept!
In fact, if you are a person of faith, you’ve probably encountered these traditions before. Major religions have all incorporated a day of rest and reflection through the millennia. Because it’s THAT important.
Think about it. Think about all you do.
Every day from the moment you get up, it’s do this, run here, see this, go there, make this, talk to them, email her, clean this, read, listen, type, talk, think, drive, cook, and try to keep it all straight! Who leaves their job behind anymore?
By the time you pull into your driveway, someone is emailing you about something, or reminding you of tomorrow’s sales figures or meeting notes. You might take work home with you to work on in the evenings. Then there’s the 24/7 cycle of news and talk shows that keep us connected constantly.
Makes you want to pull the plug, doesn’t it? Not for very long, but just long enough. Not to hear another notification ringing through, not to check your email one more time, not to wonder if you’ll have enough time to pick up your kids from school and get to work on time?
It’s a mean vicious cycle and it never gets any better.
What can you do?
Well, you could unplug entirely. Or do it in steps or a little bit here and a little bit there. I’ve known people who literally fall off the map when they go on vacation; they will send out that email ANNOUNCING their unavailability because they’ll be totally unplugged and in a place where no one knows they’re there. That seems a little extreme to me; I want to know I can use my smartphone or get online if I so choose.
But, just sitting and doing nothing sounds awfully good, too! Just like those zoo animals. Because unplugging or walking away for a time from all technology is really a good idea. And you know what? You won’t be missing anything! It’s the same ol’ same ol’ on Facebook, just a different day.
Am I right?
- Have you ever listened to the pouring rain?
- Sit on your porch and watch the day turn to night.
- Watch the sun rise.
- Find a favorite rocking chair and sit and talk. Just talk.
- Do a puzzle.
- Watch a movie without any mobile devices turned on.
- Go on a picnic.
- Take a long, leisurely walk.
- Stay in your PJs all day.
- Do the dishes by hand.
Once upon a time houses were always built with front porches.
I recall when I was about 4 years old being invited with my mother to our next-door neighbors porch for some lemonade on a VERY hot day! Now Mrs. Hutchinson was an old woman at that time; probably in her late 60s, which of course, doesn’t seem so old to me now. Her porch was the width of her house and had screens all around with bamboo shades and lovely wicker furniture within. It was rather dark when we walked in. There were a few of her lady friends there as well; I remember how nicely dressed everyone was and how simple a setting just to stay cool.
That’s what you did years ago when it was hot outside; you sat quietly, drank something nourishing, and didn’t move much. No one had air conditioning in the ’50s; the best you could do was a make-shift fan held to your face. Somehow it didn’t matter, you made do. Nobody complained because that’s just the way life was.
Little by little front porches seemed to disappear along with resting on a Sunday. Even if that’s not for you, or you work on weekends, you can still take a day or an afternoon, and do nothing.
Observe. Listen. Watch.
Be totally passive. Let your mind unwind. Chances are, when you first do something like this, your brain will be going at 90 miles an hour. Slow it down, for just a while. Don’t think about tomorrow or what you have to do before then; don’t let the pressures of the week or your job besiege your every thought. You’ll feel like choking very soon.
Doing nothing doesn’t have to be done every week. Perhaps one day a month will be enough. Just some time to sit and unwind. It feels so good. It may seem as if you’re wasting time, but trust me, you’re not! What you’re doing is allowing your mind to quiet down, and new, more creative ideas will rise to the surface when you do this.
When I walk my dogs I see a man who enjoys sitting on his porch on warm sunny mornings with his mug of coffee. No newspaper or book, no phone. He’s just there sitting quietly.
That’s a good start to a day, or a productive way to end it. There’s always time tomorrow for more.
So, here are some tips on finding a little time to do nothing! (Doesn’t that sound crazy!)
- Find the best spot in your home. Do you have a favorite rocking chair or wicker chair? Maybe a recliner or loveseat? Make this place your go-to spot every time. Perhaps you have a creek out back or a large field perfect for spreading a blanket. Or it could be during a walk with your dogs. What about paths around your house? Are they good for walking and relaxing?
- Schedule some time. You decide what will work for you. You may find one day a month is good, or maybe one afternoon every other week. Or just one hour in a busy week. It doesn’t have to be thought of as “me-time” (I don’t like that term), just a chance to back up, sit down, and DO NOTHING.
- This time of year (Spring) there are so many sounds to hear outside. Birds are always calling, and they fill the days with tranquil sounds even when you’re not paying attention. But, schedule a relaxation hour and suddenly you’ll hear their pretty bird plainchant. Inside you may want to include some type of music; jazz or classical seems to work the best. Only as background noise, tuned down.
- If you use a prayerbook or other books of faith, bring them along. Now is the perfect time to read another chapter or catch up on a special verse or insight. So much more will be revealed to you when you have quiet time.
- If you can, try an hour at sunrise or an hour at sunset. I especially love walking my dogs just when it’s dark; it’s quiet and no one is talking at me. Leave your phone home and just take in what this time brings to you. Walking is the perfect way to generate ideas anyway!
So, the next time you have time, or even when you don’t, MAKE TIME. And do nothing!
You’ll be amazed at how refreshed you’ll feel. How giving yourself over for an hour or a day, will work wonders in your life!
Do nothing to do something later on.
“Homekeeping Inspirations for Crafting Your Best Life!” never felt so good!