Idleness is not a vacation, an indulgence or a vice. It is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it, we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quietness that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration. It is, paradoxically necessary to getting anything done.
I don’t have a reference for this quote, but it is one of my favourites. Whoever wrote it understood the importance of being able to do nothing, which in essence is being.
As a society we idolize being busy, it’s often the first question people ask “busy day?” “have you got much on today?” “I’m so busy!!” Rushing, frantic, out of time, we are shackled by the tiny device attached to our wrist, like a handcuff it ticks away as we fret and panic.
The connection of time and stress is interesting, as our relationship with time, and how we choose to spend it is an important one. We have a finite amount of energy that we can put into each moment, each breath, each day and each lifetime. That is what makes time at once so valuable and also so trivial. At some undefined point our time/energy runs out, and we must replenish it.
It is through our choices and daily habits, as well as our thought patterns and relationships, that we can perpetuate unhealthy relationships with our time and energy, or we can thrive by managing it skillfully.
I used to be constantly late, always rushing, always frantic. I once received three $80 speeding tickets in one week, as I sped past the same speed camera three times to get to my class on time. I hadn’t left myself enough time to get there.
Slowly though I have learned to budget my time and value my time without giving it away easily and carelessly. I say no to engagements I know will frazzle me or will increase the time pressure in my life. I leave myself a time buffer and have even on occasion (though still rarely, I am not yet my mother…) arrived a few minutes early.
We are the timekeepers of our lives, and we alone have the power to manage and navigate how we spend this precious resource. Take time to be still and idle, to rest and recover, to fill your cup and recharge. The amount of energy you gain from this simple practice will surprise you.