The Lost Art of Not Doing

“Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.”

Kahlil Gibran.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Who Am I, If I Am Not Being Productive?

Who am I if I’m not “crazy busy”? Productivity was drilled into me, and unconsciously I felt that I was only worthy of taking up space in the world if I was being busy doing something. Relaxing was being lazy, not self-care. For 30 years I’ve billed by the hour as an attorney whose income and value to the firm is driven largely by how much of my one wild and precious life I spend working. Then there’s the unpaid work of a mother’s daily life.

A friend mentioned that the world should rediscover the “lost art of doing nothing,” and I was immediately intrigued. Does “doing nothing” mean lying on a hammock, watching the world go by, 24/7? To find out, I picked up Diana Renner and Steven D’Souza’s book, “Not Doing: The Art of Effortless Action,” and I was hooked.

A quick read, it was filled with stories of learning to widen your view of how to get things done. Its stories show that “trying harder” isn’t always the best way, and trying less may be. Busyness can actually keep you from doing a good job — limiting creativity and foreclosing strategic thinking in lieu of doing, doing and doing some more.

The book reminds us that Martin Luther and John Calvin conceptualized hard work, self-denial and discipline as Christian duties, with hard work being considered a source of personal value. Soon, hard work became an end in itself. And that, my friends, is no way to live.

No more rushing through life!


To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Invocations and Blessings

Reviewing John O’Donohue’s collection of poetic prayers

“Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,

May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.”

For Equilibrium, a Blessing, by John O’Donohue

I recently finished my morning readings of John O’Donohue’s Book of Blessings and it was truly a blessing for my soul. It’s a book ideal for those times in your life that mark an occasion – a birth, a death, a new home, a new job, retirement, but I read it daily and found it to be an ideal start to my day. He thought of everything — my husband has an old friend whose son was arrested last year for a serious crime, and it’s hard in those situations to even know what to say or do. This book has a blessing for the parents of a child who is imprisoned, and it made me weep it was so touching and heart-felt. It is an ideal book to have handy when you need to give or receive a blessing of any kind. Read it, and your heart will thank you.

You may purchase a copy of the book from an independent bookseller here. https://bookshop.org/books/to-bless-the-space-between-us-a-book-of-blessings/9780385522274

May your day be overflowing with blessings…

Each day the world blesses us with its beauty. Soak it in.


Fact or Fiction?

You’ll see on my Goodread’s sidebar that I have several books on my “reading” shelf and they are a mix of Fact (London: A Biography) and Fiction (The Fiery Cross).  Of course those two aren’t that different — one reason I enjoy historic fiction is that I’m learning about history at the same time as I’m enjoying the story about people living during that historic time.  I enjoy mixing it up — and that’s one reason I joined Ann Patchett’s Parnassus bookstore’s First Edition club.  (I’m in Warwick’s First Edition Club as well, but it almost always features fiction, whereas Parnassus mixes it up.

The Parnassus First Edition monthly selection a few month’s ago was In The Kingdom of Ice: The Grand And Terrible Polar Voyage.  I have exactly no interest in ice or the North Pole or voyages thereto, or even the 1880s time period.  So never would I have picked up that book to read.  But dutifully, and trusting Ann’s judgment, I opened to page one and started reading and soon was enthralled by the courage and preparation and adventurous spirit and attitude of those brave men who went forth to find a sea passage to the North Pole and wound up in a place where Northern Siberia — 1,000 miles away — looked like heaven on earth.  In fact I sometimes pick up non-fiction books more often just to try to up our average, after reading that in general after graduation adults read only two non-fiction books for the rest of their lives!!!  Seriously?  Two?  There is so much to learn, and it’s so much fun doing it, I can’t imagine missing out on all the wonderful non-fiction that’s right at our fingertips, thoroughly researched and beautifully written words of wisdom and insight and knowledge.

But after a non-fiction I’m always ready to just have fun with or be scared by someone’s imagination by digging into a good novel.  I’m glad I can move between the two without having to read just one and not the other.  The answer to the Daily Prompt for me, then, is Fact AND Fiction … one right after the other, learning and imagining and enjoying them all!