On Her Own

On Being Busy and Doing Nothing

How busy are you this week?

Here in the US, summer is officially winding down now that we’re at the beginning of September and have Labor Day around the corner. School has started, or will very soon, and it’s a last mad dash to finish summer projects, start fall activities, and stare down the oncoming holiday season. All that without even mentioning the sorts of things that make regular life over-scheduled and crazy.

There’s so much to do and no matter how many items you cross off your to do list, it often feels like there’s still more that should be done. Whether it’s keeping up with the neighbors, drowning at your day job, or simply trying to scramble all the pieces of your life together (perhaps with little to no adult support)…it’s a lot.

Which is why I was so intrigued when I ran across mention of a German university recently announcing that they were planning on awarding “Scholarships for Doing Nothing.” Applicants will be judged based on what they propose not to do, why, for how long, what the effect will be of not doing, and how they’re the perfect person for the not-job. I’m pretty sure that the idea is to inspire the kinds of non-actions that make for global change by saving the environment, bringing about world peace, or otherwise making sweeping impact on big populations.

It made me think, though, about how we can change the local world around us that all of us can directly affect, simply by standing back instead of doing something.

Maybe you don’t get to deep-cleaning your home this weekend, but instead you have hours to spend with a friend in need of focused time and attention to deal with a loss or other challenge in their life.

Maybe you skip out on sharing that meme or hot take, and don’t poke the strife bear that feeds anger and hard feelings between you and your loved ones.

Maybe you take a few extra days to get around to a task at your job, and by the time you do, you discover not only that it’s no longer necessary, but that the person who couldn’t wait for you figured out a way of revamping the entire process you had just one small step in, leaving you more time to do your real work.

Maybe you don’t make dinner tonight, and instead watch a movie with your family. Afterward, you go for a walk together, enjoy a beautiful sunset, and your teenager starts confiding their secrets to you again.

Maybe you don’t respond when someone is wrong on the Internet, and by keeping the peace you get a full night of sleep so that when someone turns in front of you, you’re alert enough to avoid the almost-accident.

Maybe….you tell me. What can you not do today, that will make your world better?

Hi, I'm Annette.

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