{ the art of doing nothing }

I found a bookmark in a used book I purchased several months ago but only recently decided to read.

When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person that walked in. That’s what the storm is all about.

Haruki Murakami

True words. Jay and I are finding new measurements of peace in the aftermath of loss. We’ve spent several months focusing increased attention on maintaining our emotional energy levels, and we wondered if the holidays were going to be particularly draining.

As it turned out, our holidays were quiet and contemplative. I think that’s the first time in 48 years of marriage I can really speak to that.

In early December I walked out of  Vroman’s bookstore with a title I couldn’t resist. “How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy,” by Jenny Odell, was calling my name.

I’m still digesting the author’s premise that “Nothing is harder to do these days than nothing. But in a world where our value is determined by our 24/7 data productivity…doing nothing may be our most important form of resistance.”

What’s the personal appeal?

I’m no longer contributing through the workforce, I’m not interested in making a name for myself, and I’m really content being described as a happily retired grandmother. What could possibly be “driving” me? What do I need to resist?

There’s a reason I haven’t put up a blogpost in a couple of months. Whenever I faced the computer screen all I could think was, “Why would anyone want to know what I’m thinking about anything?”

Rather than feel distress at this thought, I actually felt relieved. It feels good to know that I’m not promoting anything at all. Not even my opinions.

I have felt drained, however, by excessive negativity, critiquing, and the incessant anger and pervasive judgments that seem to be hard for me to tune out. I don’t know when I reached a saturation level, but I did.

So I’ve had to find a strategy to keep my energy high and not to give in to the siren song of griping.

I know what I need.

I always find my best self when I’m near the ocean, and even the possibility of bringing the beach indoors works for me!

I enjoyed a wonderful day with a friend who was fortunately staying at the beautiful Hyatt Regency in Huntington Beach. What a treat for me to meet her there!

And any time it’s clear enough off the coast to enjoy a view of Catalina Island I am happy to sit, even in the cold, with my only thought and focus, what a privilege to live where this is all so close. I might have been humming “Let it Go, Let it Go…”

I love the ocean in winter.

 

I know my response to the noise and clatter of today’s “opinionating” isn’t at all unique to me.  Sensitive people of all ages are questioning how we can turn the tide of negativity and become a more pluralistic society.

While I wait…

I can’t always stop the unnecessary chatter, but I can cultivate whatever peaceful pastimes drown out unnecessary cacophony.

I keep this Carl Jung quote next to my computer.

I am looking forward enormously to getting back to the sea again, where the overstimulated psyche can recover in the presence of that infinite peace and spaciousness.

I hope we can all find quiet places to retreat from the maelstrom.

May 2020 be the year we all find a place to rest our often overstimulated psyches.

Perhaps with intention we can better understand the gift of doing nothing.