A Brief Deliberation and Study of the Nothing
As ironic as it may be, that a comeback post should be about nothing, this concept, is by far, the only thing that interests me at this very moment. Perhaps it is the fact that I am currently reading Dickens, or the fact that I have grown several decades older (not wiser, mind you, just older) in the short span of a year, but this is how I sound now, and there is no apparent remedy that I know of.
Having done away with that brief and inconclusive introduction let me talk about an hour I spent doing nothing. An hour I was gifted by chance, the other day. An hour that has spurred in me the need to write.
It was smack in the middle of a normal day, and the singular task before me, that hour, was to sit and do nothing. It does not matter how I came to that juncture or the events that led to it. Only that I had an hour before me.
The phrase ‘doing nothing’ is one of the most delicious sounds to my ear. ‘Chocolate’ is a close second to it. Yes, ‘chocolate’ is second. And when I say, ‘doing nothing’, it does not mean vegetating on the couch, staring at the television at some inane sitcom that stopped being funny somewhere in the 90s. It does not mean taking a power nap that turns into a full-blown paralysis, where your dreams are more vivid and dreary than your actual life. It does not mean sitting at a coffee shop, nursing a cup of coffee, exchanging gossip with a friend, where you claim to relax, but you are actually keeping tabs on how many times you have ‘relaxed’ in the last six months. It does not mean taking a vacation, sleeping in late, ordering in room service, while, in your head, you are running conversations you will have with your friends about how you “did nothing” on your vacation. Or even worse is the same scenario, except it is a “staycation.” I never understood the purpose of that one, really.
My hour of doing nothing was spent staring.
I first stared at the everyday objects in front of me – a notebook with scribbling that reminded me of certain confrontations that meant nothing now, my phone which reminded me that I had to call several people but never got around to it, a shelf with sundry objects, the purpose of which had long been forgotten, and other symbols of mundane life that threatened to crowd out the precious minutes of this rare hour.
Soon, my eyes strayed to the window… what beauty lay there! I could see trees, swaying to the wind, stretched out as far as I could see, and over the horizon, the pale blue mountains. I did what any human would do – admired the scenery for what felt like ages, but was probably only a few minutes in mundane time. Gone were reminders of the callings outside of that window frame. These were replaced by pure admiration of the good fortune of a tree, whose obligation, at that moment, was to stand and sway against the wind. I could do that! Oh, how it would feel to do that! Stand against the wind, eyes shut, swaying… Oddly, it makes me think of sun-baked Italian streets – a place I have literally only been in my dreams. I realized my best dreams feature Italian streets! An amazing discovery about myself, right at that moment!
There-on, I sat looking out at the pale mountains, wondering how it would feel to stand on the very top of that mountain, feeling content that there was nothing higher that I wished to climb. And then, once I am there… doing nothing.
Suddenly, the clouds lifted from the grey firmament that was my mind. I felt neither my shoulders, nor the burdens that rested on them. I had no memory of all my thoughts so far. I had no clue about how I existed. Only that, with my eye fixed on the whiteness beyond, over that mountain, I could get away with doing nothing.
And I did.
Perhaps it was the world moving again, or a bird flying by, I am not sure, but one of them brought me back to this realm of ‘doing’. And I realized, I had things to do. Somethings, many things, everythings… but I would always have the delicious memory of the hour I did nothing.