Bite on this and chew it:
“You will be civilised on the day you can spend a long period doing nothing, learning nothing, and improving nothing, without feeling the slightest amount of guilt.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
Reader Leonie shared this with me following my post about my time in an Ayurvedic clinic in India from a few months back. I read the quote. And absorbed the “civilised” notion. I get the full weight of this.
I take civilised to mean solid, steady, considered, wise, tempered. It’s non-reactive. It comes from a place of full consideration. To reach this point, we need to be reflective. To sit. To allow. To witness.
Doing is great. But we also have to sit back and allow. Sprint, rest. Sprint, rest.
I know many people don’t know where to start this experiment. And it is an experiment that takes a lot of building up of muscle. Here’s a few ideas I reckon build this important muscle:
- Schedule a “think week” in lieu of a holiday. Use this week to indulge in your thoughts, let them roll over you like waves. By the time your holiday comes around you will actually be able to think less, in my experience at least.
- Try taking one day off a week (if possible). I have been taking Thursdays off for a long time. These are my Clear Days – no emails, phone calls, or social media. It does wonders to recharge the batteries.
- Sit still and do absolutely nothing. I forced myself to really do so in India. Four weeks in an Ayurvedic clinic, without toilet paper, soap and next to no exercise (2-3 laps around the small courtyard was all I was allowed to do). This practise of doing nothing – ironically – does something to you.
- Stay in one spot and let nothing happen.
- Take a flanerie. Just wander around a city, a la the French, with no aim.
- Do things at the same pace as reflective thought. Like handwrite. And walk.
How do you go about doing absolutely nothing? Have you tried it?