Have you ever heard someone say that killing time is wrong, and that we should make the most of every moment of our down time? It’s true that every second of life is precious, but is there really anything wrong with doing absolutely nothing?
We are encouraged to make the most of every minute, even when we’re travelling. Got a train journey? Then read a self development book, catch up with old friends, learn a new language, do some work. All great things to do, and it’s not the doing I object to – it’s the feeling that we HAVE to do something. Every. Single. Minute.
Learning The Portuguese Art Of Sitting
It was whilst on honeymoon that I observed the joy that is the Portuguese art of sitting. Andrew and I would set off to explore in the morning, observe older gentlemen sitting enjoying the sunshine, and when we returned many, many hours later we would see the very same gentlemen still sitting in the same spots watching the world go by.
Spotting these ardent sitters became a bit of a game to us. How many would we see? How many would return our enthusiastic waves? How many would still be there when we returned from our daily adventures?
Back then, before Andrew broke his back and neck and we reassessed our whole working lives, we were slightly perplexed by the whole ‘not doing anything all day’. As extraordinarily busy people we were used to filling every moment of our day. Downtime included work time, we didn’t really ever completely stop. We even took our laptops on honeymoon – go figure!
This was the mindset we had, and the mindset that is encouraged by society. Every second counts and time should not be ‘wasted’. And as we get older we become very aware of the sands of time spilling though the hourglass of life, which makes the desire to fill every moment stronger.
Now we see things completely differently.
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We used to believe that being productive and not letting a single minute go to waste was the right way to live. It took completely breaking ourselves (not long after Andrew’s accident I broke my coxis) before we began to appreciate that those Portuguese gentlemen had a good thing going!
It may seem like a good idea to not kill time, but to fill each moment with productivity. Yet is this the way to really live? Our lives have become a non stop treadmill of productive tasks. Our work bleeds into our time off. We are all in danger of becoming cogs in a very unpleasant machine. And who wants to be a cog?
What about lying in the sun with our eyes closed and simply listening to the world go on around us? What about reading a trashy novel, just for the pleasure of reading. What about napping on a journey? What about walking barefoot in the sand? What about spending time with the ones we love unencumbered by productive purpose?
We have the freedom, the freedom to break the chains of productivity. We do not have to improve ourselves every second of every day. Sometimes improvement comes from simply ‘being’.
Now I do realise that some of you will have high pressured jobs and busy lives, I used to be one of you. Yet there are always a few minutes here and there to grab. So start killing time – it’s not a sin. We are not killing time, we’re enjoying it. If doing absolutely nothing brings you joy then do it! Let’s relax, lose ourselves in thought, have a lie in or a lazy Sunday.
We have one life. Let’s make it a life of joy. A life of wonder. A life filled with moments of nothingness. Do let me know what you do to enjoy the nothingness.