The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

HoneyIt’s been an interesting week. I had gotten an urgent call last week from a friend looking for a babysitter while she was gone on vacation. The regular sitter had suddenly gone into the hospital and my friend’s flight left in less than 48 hours! Who could she trust with her baby? Gloria to the rescue!

This was the kind of baby I could have fun with – he had blond hair, big brown eyes and four legs – he was an adorable little dog named Honey! As long as I could log on to her internet, I could work! I brought a laundry list of “To-Do’s” and looked forward to working in a fun and different environment. Plus, she had ESPN and I could watch the World Cup games! Gloria the queen of multi-tasking!

Ironically, just the week before I remembered a time a few years ago when I had “dog-sat” for two cocker spaniels at a nice house with a pool. I dubbed the concept “timeshare with dogs!” I had the thought, I miss the “dog timeshare” routine. It was after thinking that, I received the urgent call.

Thoughts become things? Yes! And this manifestation was even better!

That “To-Do” List? It didn’t turn out the way I planned.

I hadn’t had a “real” vacation in a long time, and having a pool, a lake view and an attentive lover in my lap (the dog) I found my spirit telling me to chill out and take a break. Don’t let the opportunity for beautiful relaxation pass by.

I remembered a phrase I had learned from the book and movie “Eat, Pray, Love.”

“Il dolce far niente.”

The Italian translates as “the sweetness of doing nothing.”

The concept is simple, but hard for twenty-first century Americans to fathom, with our continual treadmill of activity. We focus on the must-do, should-do and do for others, but ignore the instinct within that just wants to savor a moment. We worry about checking our email, Facebook and text messages. Have you ever tried seeing how long you can wait to read it after hearing the ping of a text message coming in?

We can learn a lot from dogs. They are “in the moment.” The decision of the moment is: Do I lie on the chair? Do I play with my toys? Do I tell Gloria I want to sit on her lap while she is working on her computer?

Yes, I got several of my “To-Do’s” done, the most important ones. But I didn’t stress that I didn’t have all of them crossed off. I didn’t even stress when my friend’s plane was delayed four hours. I had to get home to prepare for an event the next day, but the sweetness had calmed me. It all got done, even with losing six hours of work time.

I thought of this concept again today when I went to my local Fresh Market store. I love this store because of the cozy ambiance and how that coziness seems to give birth to interesting conversations and interactions. I picture Italian markets being like this. I was intending to hit the counter quickly for some seafood on sale, and get back home. They were out of the fish, but on my way to the register to get my rain check I walked past the wine tasting stands. I stopped to say hello to one of the wine hostesses who I knew and got drawn into a rather funny conversation with one of the patrons. It got very humorous and there was even a little singing involved! I wasn’t looking at my watch. I was enjoying the sweetness of the moment. The Italians would be proud of me.

I’ve also heard the story of a mother who asked her little boy what he was doing while he was sitting in his room looking rather intent. He replied, “I’m busy! I’m busy doing nothing.”

“Il dolce far niente.”

Enjoy some sweetness this week. Take some time to be “busy doing nothing.”
It might be more productive than you think.

Honey il dolce far niente

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