Today I’m trying to do nothing. What a novel concept!
Someone smart, probably Gandhi or Yoda, once said “all things in moderation”. This makes perfect sense. Someone else, apparently a Roman poet, said carpe diem (“seize the day”). I like the latter and tend to ignore the former.
We each get a limited number of days on earth. I endeavor to seize the ever lovin’ shit out each one. Life is too damn much fun to sit on your ass so I don’t. Many of my readers agree. I know I’ve got a higher than average index of hard working folks tuning in; homesteaders, travelers, hunters, preppers (I miss the term “survivalist”), builders, fixers, doers, and zombie hunters. Even those who’ve gone Galt are busily attacking whatever non-taxable endeavor interests them most. All are welcome and all are seizing their day.
The problem with “seize the day” is that it’s exhausting. Seize too many days in a row and you’re toast. Eventually you’re hungover, limping, sleep deprived, and passed out in a gutter in Tijuana. It happens to me all the time. (I’m speaking metaphorically dammit. Don’t ask about the Tijuana thing. Also, I deny everything.)
Obviously a balanced life requires a certain amount of down time. Today I decided to rectify my imbalance in the ass sitting, doing nothing, department.
It’s not easy. I had plans. I’d scheduled a day to do some “recreational logging”. It’s brutally hard work but I simply love cutting firewood. I had my sights on a particular patch of swampy ground that’s just aching for some cutting. It’s an ideal moment right now. The ground is frozen and the snow isn’t deep. (Southerners can be forgiven if they don’t recognize the immense utility of “impassible” swamps that are flat as a pancake and freeze like cement.) The snow could drift at any moment. The time to strike is now! (A wise man tries to work on nature’s schedule instead of against it because doing the opposite will get your ass kicked faster than you can say “sunk in the mud”!)
I was up at dawn (not my favorite hour) but at the last minute decided to take a genuine day off. I left the tractor in the barn and poured another cup of coffee. Sure, I did a few chores, washed some dishes, fed the chickens, etc… I suppose my “ass sitting” is a whole lot more kinetic than most ass sitting. Even so, I promised myself I wouldn’t move a damn inch until the coffee was gone and I’ve done relatively little after that.
Frankly it seems weird. (Also it’s confusing my dog.) Why is it so hard to chill out? I’m not sure. I have a theory that the ants in society are a little more jittery than usual. Feeling all alone in a sea of grasshoppers will do that to you.
At any rate it’s one of those moments when I see that religion had a good idea and I should pay more attention. I’m talking about Sunday. Being non-religious I don’t “do” Sabbath. (Note that I said non-religious. This is not the same as “militantly annoying atheist nutbar”. If you think you’re doing good by getting the vapors over a Nativity scene you’re just being a dick. ‘Nuff said about that.) It occurs to me that taking one day in seven to rest your bones is just common sense and I need to do it more often.
I’ve decided to reserve a weekly day of rest. (It doesn’t have to be Sunday. I don’t think God will get pissed at me if I stack wood on Sunday and then kick back on, for example, Wednesday.)
Unfortunately, I can’t go cold turkey. Maybe doing the bare minimum on one day of seven will be my New Year’s Resolution. (Unlike most, I actually take a serious shot at “resolutions”.) That gives me a little while to break myself in to the idea. I wonder how one integrates an iron clad “day off” into a lifestyle? It’ll be interesting. There’s always pressure and I’ve tended to jump on any job that needs doing without looking at the calendar. (I wish there was a word for “Sabbath” that would work in my instance. Maybe something like “back off”?)
This isn’t going to be easy but I’m going with it. I’ll start seizing the hell out of 1/7th of my time by doing jack shit. So long as I’m busting ass the other 6/7th I don’t think it’s too risky. (If I wind up watching too much Oprah until my only outside activity is wandering around Wall-Mart in sweats I’ll know the idea failed.)
Why didn’t I think of this sooner?
If you observe the Sabbath on Woden’s Day, try using some of the time for weapons practice and maintenance, and reading (optionally writing) poetry.
For the appropriateness of other activities (tending chickens, &c.), consult the Hávamál.
My day is usually a Saturday.
If I can make it home Friday night, I share with Mrs B the list of all the crap I need to do over the weekend to be caught up by Monday.
Then I wake up Saturday and plant my ass on the couch and watch Netflix B-movies til the cows come home.
Then I scramble Sunday to get ready for the next workweek.
I agree that Saturday is preferable. It comes too close to the work week to hit the ground running. By Sunday the engine is more likely to be firing on all cylinders again.
Downtime is necessary but dangerous in excess (as are many things). Too much and you fall into a lethargic routine every bit as draining as overwork, which saps you of motivation and capability. I’ve found the few minutes of mind clearing meditation before martial training to be an excellent thing. Downtime should be treated similarly, and I’m quite partial to Eric’s suggestions for tasks to occupy the body and mind during this meditation.