Sunday, September 27, 2009

Art of Doing Nothing Lost

Image by Thinspocotore

I'm a reporter by day. Part of my job is to write a weekly column. I just wanted to share my latest with you all, because I think it's pretty universal and we can all benefit from its basic premise. So here it is:

Column by Monica Crowe

Do you ever just sit and do nothing at all? If you’re like me and almost everyone else it’s likely that moments like that are seldom stolen if ever.

Where does this constant need to do something come from? America’s collective unspoken motto seems to be, “Busyness is best.” But is it really? Consider this. People who manage to find the time to do nothing are often deemed lazy, and in our society, laziness is one of the most looked down upon characteristics a person can have. On average, Americans get five to 10 vacation days a year as opposed to Europeans who get upwards of 20-30 legally mandated days. Any American with that kind of siesta time would likely rather work than figure out what to do with all of those unregimented hours.

Image by Anna Caso

And, I mean, come on. We have to make money, right?

In my opinion, Americans work solely for the purpose of buying stuff. Yeah, food and shelter are factors, but what we really want is more stuff. Those who disagree should consider why so many people are suffocating their freedom and sanity by regularly adding to their heap of debt. reports that by the end of 2008, American’s credit card debt totaled $972.73 billion. The average debt per household was $8,329.

Image by Hakan Photography

As opposed to Americans, Europeans work solely to enjoy their vacation time. It’s true. I’ll give the perfect example. My Dutch brother in law’s longtime chum got a huge raise at work. Instead of accepting the extra pay, he made a deal with his employer to give him an extra day off per week in exchange for the same pay rate. So now this guy gets three-day weekends, plus 30 days of vacation per year. Amazing.

And the Dutch aren’t the only culture in Europe living la dolce vita. In Rome, the people have made an art of “Il dolce far niente,” meaning “sweet doing nothing” or “sweet idleness.” They relish in experiencing life to the fullest, to love and be loved and to see and be seen.

Image from I Am Blessed

If we are constantly on the go and moving from one activity to the next, are we really allowing ourselves to stop and take note of the subtle beauty of life? Plenty of people see life as a destination when really it is happening right now and from one moment to the next. By always thinking ahead, or even in being stuck in the past, we are robbing ourselves of the present moment, which is really the only time there is. The past is gone and the future is yet to be.

Doing nothing may seem like a waste of time, but if only on occasion it can be energizing to the senses and the mind. It can awaken creativity, vitality and feelings of well-being. Doing nothing, by the way, does not include watching TV or reading a book. It’s just being-ness. Try it. You may just learn something about yourself and the world around you.


Tambria said...

Loves this article, Mrs. Crowe! We do need more moments in life where we can enjoy life and this beautiful earth that God created.

M.M.E. said...

Awesome article. This is why I relish the idea of being a freelance illustrator and writer after graduation. Every day is a vacation!

Little Gray Pixel said...

As someone who multitasks herself silly, I took your article to heart. I really need to find time to just be.

Thanks for visiting my blog, btw. :-)