When We Do Nothing

I have enjoyed writing about effort and motion. I have enjoyed getting the feedback about the motivation of it all. We live in a world where everything is in motion all the time, and at times we feel like all we do is PUSH PUSH PUSH! What happens when we get tired? What happens when we want to do nothing at all?

Rest is required for any organic growth. In some instances, it is just as necessary as breathing. In breathing we have a rhythm - In - Out - In - Out - We can hold our breath and think about our breathing, but when we don’t think about our breathing, we keep on breathing anyway. Like breathing, there has to be Effort - Relax - Effort -Relax (Or does there?)

When looking for any answers about the human condition, or how to improve ourselves, it is imperative to look around and see things as they really are, and not how we want them to be. This morning was one of those clear sky kind of days where the sun burst up above the horizon after just teasing us with a welcoming warm glow as it chased the evening away. The way our world changes from day to night has a rhythm too. Any music that touches our soul also has a rhythm - and as I enjoyed the sunrise and as I was thinking of music - it dawned on me (yes, pun implied) that it was all about the rhythm, but not about doing nothing.

Rest as we have come to think about it is not an “active” activity, but like anything in our life that we want to improve on, it needs intentionality. I teach a group of children martial arts, and as an instructor, I get to know them not just for their time on the mats but in life in general. I had one young girl whose mom said she was not helping around the house cleaning up and not putting away her toys. Her little sister had a better report from her mom, however, the younger sister was cleaning up and being helpful.

I asked Breanna (the older one) what went on at home about her toys and stuff, she just looked at me and shrugged. I don’t take shrugs - so I patiently waited and let the silence do the work. Breanna saw her sister Nicole sitting there sort of smugly and felt the silence working against her, so finally, she said: “I don’t know.” “So, Breanna, tell me how you feel when your room is cleaned up”, “Good I guess.” “No, really - tell me what you feel like when you tidy and everything is in its spot; the carpet is all vacuumed, there is no dust, the furniture is polished, it looks as good as it does just before your parents have guests over.” There was a giggle from some of the other parents when I said that, (We have all been there, our house cleaner than ever when we know someone will be coming to visit). “I feel good”, she said and she was visibly smiling now, I could tell she was feeling it.

This is is when we get back on track, this is a blog about doing nothing - and not about cleaning like a maniac but read on, I am getting there. Breanna was smiling now, and I said, “So you know what to do to make you happy, right?” There was some resistance, and a puzzled look, so I went on, “When you were sitting in your messy room, and your sister was busy cleaning hers what were you doing?” “Nothing” (perfect, exactly what I wanted to hear) Now with a bit of a snarky smile I asked “When you were doing nothing were you smiling? Were you feeling good about doing nothing? Was doing nothing FUN? Were you having a joyous time?” “No she said” and so I lead her in the best direction I could at that moment “So Brianna, Nicole knows that doing stuff makes Mom happy - and it makes  HER happy and we are all just waiting for YOU to be happy, but you have to do the work, you have to clean up the room, but it does that, you will find out that even the act of doing it can be fun, that DOING something instead of NOTHING is when you find your smile, and it is something that you can see that you've accomplished!!!” I saw the understanding, but I wanted to drive it home. “What do you accomplish when you do nothing?” “nothing” “EXACTLY”, I proclaimed loudly!

Resting and doing nothing is not the same thing, and you can do a lot of things still when resting! But doing nothing sets up a reduced speed for the remainder of the day. All motion wants to stop, it is natural for us to want to stop, especially if we are tired, and REST is good, but we can still DO something.

I for one am a voracious reader, and NOW I am diligently working on sharing with you as a writer. I rest in many ways, but something is usually active, and when I am sleeping, it is with the intention that I sleep, because my body needs to recover from all that I have put it through, but SLEEP is doing something. If you can wake up and say “Wow, I really slept good” you know you actually achieved something. The LACK of doing something does not have any sort of accomplishment with it, thus has no joy attached to it.

The absence of doing something is just that Absence. Fill your life with motion. For growth and life only happen in motion. Think about it also as a physics equation, where accomplishments are the only thing that registers along a timeline. If you do nothing and if you are dead, the timeline would look the same. Live life to the fullest, and measure the accomplishments, regardless of their importance or not, they still are part of cumulative experiences that is your life! Start #PUSHing and breathing and get into the rhythm that makes you the most productive, but don’t let the music stop playing, DANCE with JOY.

John “Z” Zeydel  your PUSH Coach and maybe your dance coach too.