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  • Writer's pictureLaurie-Ell Bashforth

how to do nothing

Updated: Mar 16, 2020

Hmmm, nothing. I'm sure there's an art to it.

Seems like it should be easy enough. But no, look around you. It's not. Everywhere we turn there's something that needs doing. Distraction, whether good or bad, is readily available. And whether you like it or not, we've gotten complacent with it. We've given in. Wearing our busy-ness as a badge of honor. A way to feel important to the world.

Choosing nothing, sitting still, is at odds with every message we're given.

I startled myself awake around 3 am one morning and realized I've been trying to perfect the art of nothing for the last 3 years. And it's been really uncomfortable! When I worked, nothing time was scheduled in as part of the day that I had nothing to do. Every other task was done. So I relished it because it was few and far between. It fell on vacations, or weekends, or 1 glorious hour in a hot bath when I claimed it as Me Time.

But now that I'm semi-retired, nothing is all I've got. My day is filled with more nothing than everything else, and it hasn't been super-dee-duper.

I've been fighting it. Pushing against what is. Causing my own pain by not accepting where I'm at, right now.

When I retired 3 years ago I did so for a few reasons

  • my family needed my presence and my time

  • my body was physically breaking down

  • for 21 years my academic schedule didn't work with my husband's and I wanted more than that for my marriage

  • I still liked (actually loved) teaching, but the beginnings of impatience and dissatisfaction were knocking on the door telling me I needed to shake things up

  • I wanted the freedom to do what I want

  • with age I finally understood that I was the kind of person who doesn't like to be told what to do

All of those reasons didn't seem good enough. I didn't seem good enough.

With nothing to do, aren't we just irrelevant?

I felt like I had to hustle my worth. My value in this world. Who am I to walk away from a great job in the highest earning years of my life? And for what?

I didn't have an answer.

You know the first question you get asked when you willingly choose to leave your job? Why? What are you going to do? Reinforcing the hidden belief that we should always have something to do.

So when do we voice the argument about being rather than doing?

In doing nothing, I'm able to just be. Be myself. Whoever that is. Because in all those busy years, me, myself, and I were intimately linked with what I did. Who are you really? I'm a teacher. Joshua and Tyson's mom. Merv's wife. My mother's daughter. Her friend.

But with this leap into nothingness I am beginning to see the light of the being that I am. I'm someone who wants the freedom to do what she wants when she wants it. A girl who values joy, trust and belonging and with every action tries to have one of those leading the way. I'm learning to listen to my heart voice, the deep wisdom inside me, and follow it. And the mystery of love calls me. Loving me and asking me to do the same for everyone and everything around me. Because that's all we're really asked to do here isn't it, learn and love?

So I continue to trust the unfolding and grow.

I'm reminded of something that was beautifully said by Mark Nepo, in The Book of Awakening.

Along the way, if blessed, we come upon an opening that feels eternal, and suddenly there's nowhere to go. So we build a fire and stare into life, surprised at the tenderness our endurance and presence has led us to.

So in learning how to do nothing I'm faced suddenly with nowhere to go. And it's here, in this divine space of nothingness that big magic happens. I find everything that I am.

Take what you need and leave the rest. xo

Love and appreciation,


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