Our 'one year' opportunity to fulfil a dream of living by the sea has given rise to "we can't possibly leave yet, let's stay a little longer". It doesn't make much sense to live in one state and work in another but then again we often end up doing things a little differently.
When you ask a kid “what are you doing?” and they say “nothing” you know it usually means something and most likely a something you will want to know about. On the other hand as an adult we can admit to doing nothing on either a lazy Sunday or a holiday. Doing nothing is allowed in small doses and when it has been earned. Doing nothing usually means doing something that is restful and relaxing, something different from our usual busyness. Spaces of doing ‘nothing’ are essential for our wellbeing.
At other times though doing ‘nothing’ is perceived as a negative thing. It is at odds with our ‘be busy’ culture. Busyness equals importance equals self esteem. Which is weird because much of our busyness is concerned with things that ultimately don’t matter, or nothing in other words. We are busy doing nothing! Yet how many of us will admit to that.
There is a different kind of doing ‘nothing’ though. Once we move beyond the doing nothing of a lazy Sunday or our well earned holiday, we enter a whole new world. Strange as it may sound, spaces of ‘nothing’ are scary. We don’t usually make or take the time to get to this point or to stay with it. As soon as we start to feel uncomfortable – bored and restless or our thoughts and feelings lead us to a place we don’t want to go we abandon the space of nothing and fill it with something. It is very hard to resist this. Television and the internet are an ever present distraction, if we went screen free for a few nights a week I wonder what would happen.
When we allow space for this kind of ‘nothing’ there is room for deeper and bigger things to surface; thoughts, feelings and memories, questions, dreams and desires. It can be downright confronting. Spaces of ‘nothing’ allow things that we keep in the dark an opportunity to seek some light. It takes courage to resist the urge to run or hide, busyness the easiest distraction.
At this particular point in my life I frequently find myself with spaces of ‘nothing.’ This long weekend has been a good example, Colin was emceeing the inaugural Australia Do lectures in the Victorian Highlands and Johanna was working each day. While Colin is routinely in Melbourne four days of the week and Johanna at school it felt strange to have three weekend days more or less on my own. I had things I needed to do and things I chose to do and things that were a distraction (like taking the photos above). I consciously tried to resist the temptation to fill all the spaces, which was a challenge because spaces of ‘nothing’ reminded me how lonely I felt at times, bored and sorry for myself and then guilty for feeling those things. This long weekend the spaces of ‘nothing’ have been uncomfortable but they have also kept me connected to my real self and encouraged me to understand and accept rather than to distract….