The Case For ‘Doing Nothing’
I am happy to share an inconsequential life update. The question “What do you do when you’re not travelling?” has been replaced by “What do you do when you’re not doing workshops?”
Sadly, ‘doing nothing’ is neither an acceptable answer. Yet
Nor is it my state of being. Yet
Here’s what’s sadder: ‘doing nothing’ has been misconstrued as frivolously idling one’s time away and according to one firmly held on to prophecy ‘an idle mind is a devil’s workshop’. I’d like to burst that mythical bubble once and for all. Three and a half years after I quit a full-time desk job, I am hereby of the opinion (backed by my own lived experiences) that it’s the ‘busy’ mind that’s the devil’s workshop.
No, wait… the busy mind is the devil’s sweatshop!
I have struggled with being able to ‘do nothing’ ever since I quit the 9-to-6. Those early years – five and a half to be precise – of being employed right after graduating from University, imprinted on my DNA this bug to constantly keep doing something. That I was rewarded (in the Pavlovian sense of the term) with an SMS alert that would read ‘salary credited’, month after month after month, only further perpetuated this addiction to be constantly doing something.
Where something was always a thing that was productive i.e. earned you a salary
I realised this was an addiction only after I stopped being a part of the 9-to-6 regime and the pace of my life seemed to run counter to the pace of my life in Mumbai; a city I have known with as much assuredness as my existence would allow since this is where I have always lived. And yet, Mumbai has, since, and continues to become more and more alien with every passing day. Because with every passing day, I keep reminding myself why I chose to not continue being a part of the rat-race.
And because with every passing day for the past 42 months, I have been struggling to stay on course with my de-addiction program
De-addiction from being busy 24*7
It used to unnerve me, at first, and now it mostly amuses me that almost every conversation begins or hovers around: (i) the projection of busy-ness “Hey! It’s been so long. You’re so busy these days. I keep seeing your updates on <insert social media platform of disdain>”; or
(ii) the internalization of busy-ness “Sigh! I’ve been so caught up and busy with <insert favourite excuse> that I have barely any time for <insert hobby/interest of choice>”
We’re not busy We are addicted to the buzz We’re afraid of what-do-I-do-if-I-do-nothing so we have our smartphones outsmarting us We’ve shamed ourselves enough to not enjoy some ‘quality’ downtime at the end of every single waking day
And sadly, we’ve settled for a bargain where we’re constantly doing more of what depletes us than what re-fuels us
I know this because I was that person who shamed herself for not being able to enjoy some qualitative downtime
Travel saved me from myself and Writing ensured there was no way I was conning the system
When travel found me and gave my then under-developed-writing-craft its long-awaited-muse, I had a desk-job. But my travel bug had begun mutating, causing me to expend my sanctioned leaves and earned income strategically and smartly enough to make departures (and impending arrivals) with relative ease and frequency.
Back then, I had folks who’d say, “You’re lucky you get to travel!”
After I took to self-employment and freelance-work and still made travel somehow transpire even when fund-flow hasn’t always been steady, I have folks who say, “You’re lucky you get to travel!”
I’ve harped on this before and will continue to for as long as it’s required: I am not lucky I am just stubborn and persistent (among other things) I also have anxieties (everyday angst) and Anxiety (the mental illness). Both of who (along with dysthymia) make ‘doing nothing’ a cardinal sin from which there can never be salvation.I’ve worked my way out of that funk
Making ‘doing nothing’ happen for me
Travelling re-fuels me. So, I scavenge and hustle for work Writing solidifies my travel epiphanies. So, I juggle work commitments with making time to write at least one post a week to my blog.
Even as I pen this post right now, it is Travel who reminds me that I need to ‘do nothing’ even when I am not travelling Journalling, on the other hand, helps me stay accountable to myself
After many weeks, I took some time out on a Wednesday like today, to slow down a bit To slow down the buzz on the inside To pause and not give in to the urge to open my laptop and ‘create’ work for myself And to pick the book sitting right next to my laptop that I’ve left half-read for weeks and begin my morning by feeding my brain (mostly spent gazing into nothingness doing nothing, therefore ‘mission accomplished’ and also, book somewhat read)
‘Doing nothing’ more often than not is to simply ask oneself: “What is it that I’m doing right now? And how does that make me feel about myself?”