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Ultimate Self-Care. Sit Quietly. Do Nothing.

The ultimate, free, self-care option

Older woman in blue top and jeans, sitting on a wooden seat looking across a garden. Frog pond on the left. Autumn trees, Deep blue wooden gate in centre of picture.
Doing nothing at Evergreen.

I am usually a busy person.


As a child and young person, I was busy pleasing an invisible and angry God in the sky,


As an adult I was busy raising five children, working two part-time jobs, and writing when I had the chance.


As an older person I spent time working in the community, making the lives of those with dementia just a little bit better, and squeezing in writing before work each morning and on most weekends.


Now I’m retired but still spend hours a day at the computer, churning out words that speak to me and a few other people.


In other words, I seldom, if ever, stop.

I’m like a bee in a field of lavender. Busy, busy, busy.


Perhaps all this busyness is caused by an underlying fear that if I stop doing things, and do nothing at all, I’ll be skidding down the slippery slope to meaninglessness.


However, after reading The Joy of Doing Nothing by Rachel Jonat, an expert on minimalism and simplification, I am going to live differently.


Every day I will set aside time to do nothing at all.


Jonat wrote on page16:


As you make the choice to do nothing – for ten minutes, for an hour, for a whole afternoon – you are resisting the pervasive call to be constantly busy, overscheduled, and stressed. You are resting your brain and your body. You are making a conscious decision to put your well-being ahead of mental busyness.


It's time for my mental busyness to stop. One day I won’t be alive, frantically typing things I think the world needs. And do you know what? The world won’t miss me. This panicky, busy living isn’t doing me any good, and doing the world no good either.


It’s time for me to do what my mother always told me I should. After eyeing the growing tautness in my face she’d often say, ‘Don’t forget to smell the roses, Marlane.’

The ultimate, free, self-care option


In his book The Way of Zen, Alan Watts quotes a Zenrin poem:


Sitting quietly, doing nothing, Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.


These Zen-based lines carry three messages for me.


  • Sitting quietly doing nothing is an important part of being human,


  • Life has an energy of its own.


  • I’m not as indispensable as I think I am. (Grass grows without my help!)


This is a short piece I’m writing today because I’m off to do a bit of quiet sitting in the garden.


I won’t think or dig or plan or feel guilty.


I will just sit quietly, doing nothing, while the garden grows around me and life – in all its glory – goes on.


Doing nothing is a worthwhile occupation.


With love, Marlane

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