I often wonder why I’m so busy, always running around like a blue-arsed fly, meeting someone, doing something, going somewhere. It was only this week, when the talented Bobacsai Zsolt resurfaced on the blogging scene after a long hiatus, that I figured it out. Reading his piece on the busy trap and the need to waste time consciously, I was struck by what he said about busyness being a learned behaviour.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen either of my parents sit and do nothing. Oh they sit, but while they’re sitting, they’re reading or doing the crossword or napping. They spend time outdoors, but they’re gardening or walking or playing golf. Apart from a few failed experiments with meditation, I don’t think I’ve ever sat and done nothing. So this week, I tried. For no predetermined period of time, I simply sat and did nothing. I did myn’t lie down – I sat. And sat. And sat. And, when after 20 minutes or so I started twitching, I rejoined the world. On reflection, I definitely felt all the better for it.
Bobacsai speaks of wasting time consciously, something that goes so much against my grain, if you hugged me, you’d get splinters. I’m all too conscious of how little time there is in a day or a week, in a month or a year. And knowing that it could all suddenly end is hardly affirmation that it’s okay to waste it. I no doubt waste time unconsciously – sitting in front of the big screen watching episode after episode of whatever series has my attention. I can sit for hours reading a book when perhaps I could (or should) be working. Flittering away those hours is usually met with feelings of guilt, pin-pricks of conscience that tell me I could have put them to better use.
Instead, though, I should be wasting time consciously, says Babocsai, and for a whole day – not just 20 minutes.
[..] no TV, no internet, no phones, no screens of any kind. Unplug yourself for this one day. Don’t even read a book. Ideally, you’d go to a lake in the woods and stare at the water all day. That’s how you properly, consciously waste a day.
Luckily, I have a lake in the woods practically in my back yard (something I’m exceedingly grateful for and appreciative of). So I’ve made an appointment for myself in early May to go there and sit, for a day. I’ll have my thermos and my sarnies and I’ll just sit. No book. No phone. No pencil and paper. And we’ll see how I get on. In the meantime though, I’m going to continue sitting and doing nothing for short periods every day until I can build it up into a couple of hours with no residual guilt. Small steps.