Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The space in between

You know when you get to that point, as an artist, where you have to let go and let the Universe do its bit? Where you need to relax after an intensely creative period but you're not sure how? It's like allowing yourself to do nothing is a crime against humanity, so soaked are we in our puritanical work ethic.

I'd like to permit myself to explore the art of doing nothing. Not forever, but for certain periods of time, amid those crazy creative spurts, the space in between. However, it's in those pauses that my fear of doing nothing emerges. If I do nothing, then I must be nothing. Except that being is enough. I don't do enough being. I do too much doing. I need to relax.

Here's a great quote by Paolo Coehlo: "If we are wasting time and enjoying ourselves, we are not wasting time." I wonder how much we miss because we're moving through life at breakneck speed, not stopping to "smell the flowers", as they say. I like to smell flowers.

But I need to train myself to smell flowers. It doesn't seem to come naturally. I used to be really good at doing nothing. I've somehow lost my edge when it comes to sloth. I now have an opportunity to revel in slowness, in frivolously wiling away the hours. If I do nothing, I'm still here so my theory doesn't hold true. By doing nothing, I'm still something. And by doing nothing, I'll be able to do something else, later on.

For us Westerners, doing nothing equates to lack of ambition, that revered quality that we must all possess if we are to be successful. But how do we measure success? Is time spent luxuriating in inactivity considered a shortcoming or a talent? I think it should be considered a talent since it can be quite difficult to truly give oneself over to idleness.

But once you do and drink the sweet nectar of slackness, it's a beautiful thing, a life skill that will come in handy for the rest of your life. Never underestimate the power of stillness, the yin to all our yang activity. (I'm actually trying to convince myself here as well.)