to-do-list-nothing[1]

I have a confession to make.

I did nothing today.

Well that is not quite true. I did do some things. I showered. I emptied the dishwasher. I ate. I watched TV. I actually went outside and turned on the water sprinkler.

But did I meet the Facebook criteria of doing something? Did I build a deck, or bake a cake or wash my car? Nope, nope, and nope. So technically, I did nothing because I have nothing to brag about.

Maybe that should be something to brag about.

But it was not easy.  The idleness came with a price tag. A nice dose of self-shame. Crazy! Why do I feel guilty about doing nothing? Why do I feel I need to busy – like the ant instead of The_Ant_and_the_Grasshopperthe grasshopper? Does busy ever end?  I mean, there is always the sense of satisfaction in doing things, but it is never like I get any closer to getting everything done.  Every time I finish something, there is always another thing surfacing…it is like the Three-Headed Hydra:  my list gets longer as each completed task seems to spawn two more!

And I tell you, being busy takes effort. There is always something to fill the time –  something to tighten  because it’s loose, to glue because its broken, clean because it is dirty, polish because its dull, cut because its long, empty because its full, fill because it’s empty…the list can go on forever and ever.

All of us that have come out of the long winter hibernation know that the brief period between “snow thaw” and “mosquito season gets busy.  (I think it is called spring – a time where Canadians don shorts and flip-flops at a balmy 6*C.)  You know the to-do list…thatching and weeding and fertilising and planting and mowing and gutter-cleaning, organising, vetting, discarding, washing, cleaning, assembling dandelion_farmetcetera. And no one wants to be the home-owner who brings down the neighbourhood property values with the huge dandelion farm, or the lawn that looks like a grade school baseball diamond.   So I will admit that there has been a tiny degree of panic and stress because I needed to get a few things done or yard will continue to look trashy, the garage will stay chaotic, or the summer clothes reamin buried under boxes and boxes. There is so  much that should be, or really “could be”, done.

But let’s park the whole spring-thing aside. The spring clean and renewal will happen eventually – hopefully before Labour Day…

I have to ask, “Why is ‘being busy’ my default setting?”  Why am I embarrassed to do absolutely nothing productive? And when did I forget how to relax idly? Even calming things, like running or biking, seem to have become agenda items.  Why do I plan my “down time” and not just let whatever is going to happen, just happen?  And it seems like I am not alone – check out all the Facebook statuses – full of accomplishments and activities and running around and getting things done.  Rarely do I see the status, “I did sweet FA this weekend, and I am good with that!”

I remember being a kid, bouncing from activity to activity carelessly.  One minute it was staring at the clouds, the next examining the anthill, then a game of hide-and-go-seek, then my paper route, then a game of street hockey or soccer or touch football,  and then homework and a bit of TV, and then bed, all the while looking forward to the next day full of who-knew-what!

kids playing

And today, things have changed now that I am almost half a century old (ouch!). Let me think about it…oh yeah, responsibility, reliability, dependability, accountability.  All those translating to timings and deadlines and tasks and task reminders and “to do” lists. It means not letting down the side and not being the point of failure, the choke point. or the weakest link. It means checking and rechecking and confirming and rescheduling and prioritising and eventually, completing.

And what if it that has been a part of your life for 30-odd years? What if paying attention to detail and ensuring the equipment is ready for its next use, that the car is full of fuel before the big trip, or the clothes are laid out the night before to save time, is part of your being?  What if your whole life has been an exercise in finding time and maximising concurrent activity and minimising effort expended?

I guess it means that it is hard to relax.

Not impossible, but hard. It takes a few days to get into vacation mode.  It means accepting that things might not get done.  That the lawn will be weedy for one more week and that I will have to dig through the Rubbermaid totes in the garage for my favourite pair of cargo shorts.

its-better-to-be-doing-nothing-than-to-be

So today, I took my first step at doing nothing. I was able to sit around and take control of the big screen and eat leftovers and basically chill. It was great. It wasn’t completely blissful – I did have the inevitable pangs of guilt: yes, I thought about the lawn (rationalising that the seeding I did last week was too fragile to be mowed); I shuddered at the winter disorganisation as I tossed the empty pop cans into the garage recycling bins. But I fought through the shame and managed to find my way back to the man-cave and Lucky Slevin. I made my peace…

And to quote the sage Dr Seuss, once you make that peace, “Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!” So let the fun begin.

And as for those other things, I’ll get them done later.  When there is nothing good on TV, or the internet ends.  watching-tv

Later,

ASF

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