What am I doing wrong? I would ask myself if I had open time on my schedule to do nothing.
People at work would ask what I did on the weekend and it almost felt like a competition to have had plans. Go, go, go!
This translated to having kids too. What activities were they in? other moms would ask, even at the toddler stage. So we went to tumble tots, swimming lessons, music classes, soccer...eventually lacrosse and after school activities. Go, go, go!
This culture of busy is a sickness. Friends drifted away because they were always "too busy" to take an hour to chat or go for a lazy walk. Busy became a status symbol for all of us.
So, to the world, I must now appear to have fallen hard. I am purposely not busy. I refuse to over-schedule. I don't flinch when I say I am doing nothing. I take time every day to lounge outside to watch clouds or appreciate the way the leaves sway in the wind. I get excited over birds and silence. Does any of this mean I don't work? No, I work a lot...much more than I ever did when working in an office. The difference is that I now work around my life instead of live around my work. And, if there are days when I'm in a funk or when the words seem forced, I don't work...and I have no guilt about it.
There is an art to doing nothing. It takes times to detox form a world where busy is the norm. You may get a little twitchy as you learn to say no and to understand that planning on being alone or planning on staying home to do your own thing IS a plan.
People look at me strangely when they discover that I'm not a frazzled mess with countless items on my agenda. I know what they're thinking...why isn't she busy? Did she win the lottery? What's she doing in that house all day alone? Verrrrrrrry suspicious!
Slowing the pace of life allows me to appreciate all of it. I work harder and am more focused because I am not exhausted or stressed out. I can sit still with someone and truly listen to them without worrying about rushing away. I take care of myself better because I am aware of my body and my mindset and the importance of both. I read without feeling as if I should be elsewhere. I walk in nature and connect with the deeper meaning of this thing called life.
Busy, to me, is a curse word. It's worse than saying fuck, in my opinion. I flinch when people say it. I look at people differently if they say it a lot...because I know they are caught up in the superficial world where it's seen as a status symbol. It's an ego thing. Busy to some people means they are more successful--at least on the outside.
I had a friend's husband go after me because I seem so free. He said, "Amber, what's your typical day like?" I told him it is whatever it unfolds to be. He did not like this response, his face turned red, and he glared at me as if I had just told him I start shooting porn at 7AM.
Why does it bother someone to see another person living their life on their own terms? Does it bother you? Are you one of the people who is caught in the perpetual busy of life? Why? If your answer is something like, "it must be nice..." Honey, it IS nice. Or, if your immediate response is that you have too many things going on to ever "do nothing", then my response is that you are doing too many things. Prioritize--and put yourself and your time on top of that list.
Life is short. I'm 51. I've lost my husband, my father, and good friends to death. I make no apologies for appreciating this earth and this life while I can or for realizing that I have all the power to do so.
There is an art to doing nothing...because when you are doing nothing, you are actually doing something very important. You are being. You are aware. You are present.
Try working "nothing" into your schedule. You will be amazed at how your life improves!
Amber Lea Easton
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also works as a professional editor and creativity coach, takes road trips with her dogs whenever the mood strikes, and advocates for suicide awareness. Her life motto is: Imagine, Create, Become. No matter what challenges life tosses her way, she gathers the pieces to create something weird and wonderful. Find out more about her books by visiting her website at amberleaeaston.com.