The virtue of doing nothing

Rainy Monday mornings: Nature's way of telling us to chill.
Rainy Monday mornings: Nature’s way of telling us to chill.

Laziness gets a bad rap. It’s a rainy Monday morning–the kind of morning everyone at work grumbles about and mutters they wish they could have stayed in bed. I can actually stay in bed. I love the unique darkness inside a house on a grey morning. It’s like the day itself is slow to wake…sleepy…lazy.

One thing I haven’t done since quitting work is spend a lazy day in bed. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been lazy, but only after getting dressed, making the kids’ breakfast, driving them to school, making the beds, starting a load of laundry. I pay some dues first before laying on the couch with my iPad to check out what’s new on One Kings Lane, or else the guilt gnaws at me. It sort of gnaws at me anyway. I don’t really enjoy it.

What will I say when people ask what I did today? I can’t say nothing. We are our stories. There are no stories to tell when you waste a day. Waste a day. That’s a terrible expression.

We feel a need to call our doing nothing something enlightening, like meditation…or educational, like retreat.

Why do we deny ourselves the bliss of doing absolutely nothing for its own sake, ideally in our pajamas, without needing to belittle it, explain it or earn it?

Have you ever watched a dog just lay around, finding the right cold spot on a marble floor or squishy pillow on a couch? They lay around with no qualms. There is no guilt, not even when you give them the evil eye for laying on the couch. They just stare back and stretch.

It is their natural state as much as it is to run or eat or work.

Did our prehistoric ancestors lay around on a beach or in a tree thinking, I should really be foraging for food or sharpening that spear? Probably.

But what if it’s just fine to do absolutely nothing at all? No planning. No problem solving. No working. No reading. No bill paying. No talking.

What if it’s great, in fact? What if much of the anxiety in our modern world, requiring so much medication, is just a natural response to the scarcity of laziness in our lives…and the unrelenting demand we place on ourselves to do more, achieve more, have more. With smart phones, we can’t even unplug from the office on weekends, at night or while on vacation.

I am going to practice doing nothing today without a shred of guilt. I am going to learn to unapologetically answer nothing when asked what I did today.

It isn’t depression. It’s just wonderful, blissful laziness…the glorious resting of our minds, bodies and souls. Try it.

It will do you good.