I’m a staunch believer in Nothing.
That is to say, I believe in the regular practice of doing Nothing.
That doesn’t quite say it either, because you probably think you do a good bit of Nothing already. And I’m willing to wager that you do much less Nothing than you think you do. I’m only guessing because I’m the same way.
What did you do this weekend? Nothing. Which is a great load of it.
When I say I “did nothing”, what I’m really saying is, “I wrote another chapter of my novel, played a board game with some friends, watched four episodes of Battlestar Galactica, read another chapter of Room, downloaded some apps to my new smartphone, jogged three miles while listening to a My Brother, My Brother, And Me podcast, doddered around on Facebook, played a little more of Undertale, finished the audiobook to A Dance With Dragons, made lasagna while listening to weekly music recommendations on Spotify, worked on a couple blog posts, fried some shrimp and tilapia, clipped coupons and went shopping, did laundry, washed dishes, and the list goes on and on.
And there isn’t anything wrong with those things, but they are all Somethings.
When I say you should do Nothing, I mean do NOTHING.
I woke up this morning and spent ten minutes brushing off my car. And then I got in my car (all pre-warmed and cozy) and decided I wasn’t going to go anywhere at all. And I didn’t go back inside, either. I just sat there.
No music, no audiobooks, no podcasts, no TV, no movies, no books, no comics. I just sat there, and was. I simply was. I didn’t even think very much. Not in a deliberate, active sort of way. I just sat there and let thoughts come to me as they would, rather than scamper after them to nail them down.
I think we all need more Nothing in our lives. We rest, but we do so in front of the TV, or with a game controller or novel in our hands. These pastimes may be relaxing, but they aren’t the same as Nothing.
Sleep isn’t Nothing, either. Sleep’s necessary, but it’s another Something.
Nothinging should be done in the awake hours. Stop doing all the things you need to do and thinking about all the things you need to do. They’ll still be there when you’re done Nothinging, and you will never get to the end of your Somethings.
Find your Nothing place. I, for one, cannot Nothing in my bed, on my couch, or anywhere else in my apartment. In college, I’d sit in my car for hours, to think, or just to get away from everything else. I think my car is still my Nothing place. Yours may be different.
Don’t bring your phone or your music to your Nothing place. These distractions and obligations are what you’re escaping.
You can think, if you want, but don’t make a point of it. Thinking is optional, and should be automatic, not deliberate.
Talk to God, if you believe in one, or even if you don’t. Even atheists can draw peace from prayer. Don’t expect a response, but listen for one anyway.
And most importantly, don’t let yourself feel guilty about Nothinging. This is how you drain the stress away. This is how you get ready for the next big Something. This is how you rest.
We all need a little bit of Nothing in our lives.