herald

Wednesday 25 April 2018

We should never underestimate the importance of doing nothing

TIME and tide wait for nobody. That's a fact. But all the rushing about, trying to cram as much as we can into life, isn't good either.

Sometimes it's positive to just stop and stare into space for a moment and breathe deeply. Obviously, it's better to do this in the privacy of your own home, or on a quiet park bench.

Now, I'm not one for meditating. I wish I could do it, but I can't. Or at least maybe I'm not willing to try hard enough. I'd look at a candle for a while and hum and then have this overpowering urge to check Facebook.

But I do zone-out. A lot. I used to get into trouble for zoning-out in school. It was not something that was encouraged. But to zone-out of a boring biology lesson always felt good.

A friend called over recently. She said she hadn't time for a cup of tea, but ended up staying to tell me all about her busy week, doing everything from dropping the kids to piano to cooking a gourmet dinner for some of her husband's important colleagues to taking up a new language in the evening.

calendar

When she left, I felt like lying down in a darkened room just to listen to the sound of silence. Why on Earth would anyone want to fill up every waking moment of their weekly calendar doing something just for the sake of it?

Honestly, I'd love to get a hold of that dear friend's calendar and write the word "nothing" in the space between 10.30am and 11.30am. Wouldn't it be great to have an hour every day to do absolutely nothing?

Of course, I doubt my friend's boss would be too keen on me amending her busy schedule on his money, but wouldn't it be great if she had at least one hour simply to do nothing, or even half-an-hour? Wouldn't it be great if we all had that?

There's no reason why we can't. If we took half-an-hour for ourselves and switched off the phone, there wouldn't be a riot. But we would feel great. I regularly switch my mobile phone off. It can be done. Nobody panics.

Slave

Well, except for the mother who has been known to phone up to 27 times in a single hour. But I refuse to be a slave to my phone. Time and tide may not wait, but everything else can as far as I'm concerned.

Like everyone else, I hate wasting time. I don't like traffic because I think of all the things I could be doing if I wasn't in traffic.

When I temporarily lived in a small town and there was nothing to do, I used to think about all the things I could be doing if I lived in Dublin. Like I could be going to the theatre every weekend.

Now I'm back in Dublin and I don't go to the theatre.

When I did shift work I resented working weekends. I could be sailing, I thought, or hill-walking. Now I work for myself, but I neither hill-walk nor sail. However, I do make the time to stare into space.

And that's what I call time well spent.

Marisa has a story in the Christmas collection, If I Was A Child Again, (Poolbeg Press), in aid of Barnardos.

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