Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Il bel far niente

Yesterday, Mary Kate commented about a book called Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Glbert. I haven't read it, but I heard about it on the radio last month. I took a 915 mile car trip to attend a family reunion. 915 miles in a car all by yourself gives one lots of time to think and to listen to CDs and the radio.

I have XM radio in my car and had tuned to a women's talk station. Amidst the regular programming, they had a short blurb by a woman who talked about this book and about how many women feel that every minute of every day must be filled with something worthwhile. If we're not doing something then we must be doing nothing and doing nothing isn't good.

"Why?" she asked. "Why does every minute have to be filled with something?" Why can't we do nothing and enjoy it? Is it the Puritan work ethic that's been pounded into us from birth? Do we believe we can't set a good example for our children if we're not slaving over something every moment? Will our husbands/family/neighbors/whatever think we're lazy?

I think many women are conditioned to believe they have to always be in the midst of some task. Of course our natural ability to multi-task doesn't help. How many of you have cooked dinner, made the next day's lunches, fielded a phone call from your mother, scheduled the next month's vacation, sorted the mail and assisted with a child's homework all at the same time?

I see the heads nodding.

When's the last time you did nothing and actually enjoyed it? When did you sit back on a beach or a mountain top or on board a cruise ship -- or even just in your back yard -- and do nothing but listen to the wind or feel the sun warming your skin or smell the freshness of the air?

When did you last engage in "il bel far niente" -- the beauty of doing nothing?

Yeah, yeah... I know. If we all did nothing, nothing would get accomplished. I'm not talking about sitting back forever. I'm talking about sitting back for a morning or afternoon to recharge, rejuvenate, relax. To let your mind concentrate on nothing.

Here's a little clip from a roadside stop I made on my trip back home. I could sit and watch this for hours. And isn't the sound soothing?

And here's a bunch of people who are expending way too much energy, not to mention getting into water that's so cold it makes your muscles cramp.

Did you do a little "nothing" over the Labor Day weekend? I did. Well, if reading Maven Linda's latest book can be described as nothing.

P.S. schwartzbergj is yesterday's winner. Please email Nalini for your prize.


Barbara Vey said...

I live next to Lake Michigan, so I hear the sound of rushing water all the time and actually I always have to go to the bathroom when I hear it. But I do enjoy walking out to the lookout point on the pier and just watching the sailboats and sometimes the ducks diving for fish.

Rhonda Nelson said...

PM, I love to do nothing! Unfortunately, I don't ever seem to have the time. :/ I think I would love to take a beach vacation alone, just me and books, but then I would feel selfish. And it wouldn't be! Argh!

Smarty Pants said...

This weekend I finished painting my office, painted my guest room, took stuff to Michael's for framing, bought poster frames and hung all the posters in my office, straightened up my bookcases, hung curtains, hung 4 sets of miniblinds, did major grocery shopping, paint shopping, visited an injured friend, made cornbread, went to dinner with friends, and cooked, like 20 times. I took a 4 day weekend cause some stuff just needed to get done. I wish I'd put together the hutch for my desk, but that will have to wait, I guess.

I like to do nothing, but the last year, it has been impossible. Once I get settled (everything painted and put away) then I can relax guilt free. Now I just steal away an hour or two of Law & Order while I do something else.

Problem Child said...

I can't do nothing. SP is already leaving me in the dust in this challenge.

grumble, grumble, goes to write

Caro said...

I love to do nothing, but like everyone else, there never seems to be time. That's why I try to schedule knitting time every day. I find knitting can be very relaxing, so it's a nice little break. Being able to sit outside and listen to rushing water with either a book or my yarn? That would be heaven.

Jen said...

I think I need to retrain myself. I can do nothing when I go to visit my mother -- because it's not all staring me in the face. Doing nothing at home is somewhere between difficult and impossible.

Instigator said...

Even when I'm doing nothing I can't stand to be unoccupied. My idea of doing nothing is reading a book, playing a game, watching TV. And yes, it isn't exactly washing dishes or balancing the company checkbook but it also isn't DOING NOTHING. I physically can't do it. It makes my skin itch and my brain twitch.


MaryKate said...

I'm must be a slug, because I excel at doing nothing. Every year, my sister and her family and I go to the beach. I always tease her because it takes her 3-4 days to relax, where I'm a puddle of goo in about 24 hours. I've never had a hard time relaxing.

I adored the book Eat Pray Love. Mainly because what the author discovered in her year of doing what she wanted was herself. She realized that it was OK to want for yourself and feel a sense of entitlement when it comes to happiness. For me, it was a profoundly moving book. Plus, the four months she spent eating her way through Italy was like reading food porn. LOL!

This weekend I did next to nothing. I watched four movies and read three books. I vegged by the pool and had dinner with good friends. I did clean my house and had some maintenance done on my car. But generally, I vegged.