Sunday, July 07, 2013

What It Is Like To Not Do Nothing.



Nothing never is.  Even when you do nothing you do something, and in particular sometimes the nothing that you do involves not just doing something but thinking about the somethings that you will do when you are done doing nothing.

It is hard to do nothing not least because there are so many people around the world and particularly around you around your world that want you to do something, but even when all those people immediately around you, all those immediate people don't want you to do something you find it's hard to do nothing

Hence: you lay on the mattress on the floor in the blue room that once belonged to the oldest child and then the second-oldest child and now is the domain of the immediate-est people, the youngest and second-youngest, and you are pushed back onto your back by the second-youngest and he topples on top of you and mumbles the word that you know now means to tickle him and so you do.

Is something nothing? Is that nothing when you do something, is lying there on a mattress tickling someone nothing? Or something? Your mind whirls: maybe you could watch a movie go play in the yard check out how the garden is take them to the pool go to the Dollar Store to replace the inner tube with the leak that you duct-taped just ten minutes ago but now has another leak and you need two inner tubes two! because they each want one and you didn't know they would each want one, you bought one only for the child you thought would want one but now they both do and what do they do with them they walk around the house with them, around their waists, inflatable belts or maybe they fear a flood so you have to have two and one is deflating all over again, sad wrinkled flopping on the floor.

Maybe you should go to the botanical gardens.

Is nothing ever?  Tickle and tickle and tickle and what movies do we have?  Lying on the bed arms wrapped around him from the back, hands tousling his hair that sometimes it seems impossible to keep combed, he is lying motionless, too, and the two of you do almost nothing for a moment and you think that if this could last for 100 years this moment I would be perfectly content but even then your mind is racing ahead should you plan on playing a game of chase? Maybe take a picnic to the botanical gardens? What movies do we have?

It is Sunday morning, a time that is hard to do nothing.  When you were young you sat in Church, where you were expected to do nothing but listen, and you didn't really, which is why today you feel you don't understand the story of the 'prodigal son,' you think sometimes that the story makes no sense but think that in the end it must be that you missed the point of it, and Sunday mornings have a feel to them a feel to them that makes you want to do something not nothing maybe because all those years ago all those fine Sunday mornings when you were 4, 5, 6, 10 were wasted -- church is wasted! -- were wasted with sunny outdoors and the smell of freshly cut grass from the people who mowed their lawns on Saturday so they could do nothing on Sunday, all those Sunday mornings when you were rousted early and dressed nicely and sat quietly and listened not at all, maybe the fact that you could not do nothing those mornings, that you could not do something either makes you so hesitant to do nothing today.

Maybe you should go to the swimming pool.

Nothing is not.  You lie there on the bed, feeling a small hand squeeze yours while you do not think about all the things you have to do during the week because you want to stop thinking about all the things you could do right now but also a small tiny part of you in your head wants to not even think about that, wants to do nothing, wants to just sit, and you hear that voice echoing around the whirlwind in your mind and know that you should listen to it but you never do, and should you?

Should you?

Maybe you could go to the playground.

Should you?

You get up, finally, and go downstairs and put on music and put on a television show and pick up some of the mess but not all of it and you plan on all the things you will do when you are done doing all the things you are already doing, and you ask what should we do today? 

And nobody says nothing.


5 comments:

Nigel G. Mitchell said...

That's a tough one all right, but a worthy goal

Andrew Leon said...

I'm not very good at doing nothing. In fact, I am so bad at it that it makes me uncomfortable to have people doing nothing around me. My oldest son used to like to do nothing quite a bit, and it always made me uneasy to see him doing it, so I would say," What are you doing?" And he would say, "Nothing." So I would say, "Well, go do that in your room, then. If you want to stay out here, find something to do."

Liz said...

That reminds me--I should thank my parents for not taking me to church as a child.

And if you want to get really, really thoughtful about nothing: http://science.discovery.com/tv-shows/through-the-wormhole/videos/what-is-nothing.htm

Briane P said...

Liz:

Excellent link! Thanks!

Andrew:
The importance of doing nothing cannot be overstated. You, like me, probably need to learn to do nothing.

Nigel:
See? You get it.

Briane P said...

Liz:

Excellent link! Thanks!

Andrew:
The importance of doing nothing cannot be overstated. You, like me, probably need to learn to do nothing.

Nigel:
See? You get it.