This I Believe

Emily - Santa Monica, California
Entered on June 19, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in doing nothing— but not in the bad way most people think of. By doing nothing, I mean enjoying a nice day, or walking without a destination. Some of life’s greatest joys are truly this modest and simple.

One of my favorite nothings to do is just sitting. I guess it sounds boring, but it’s amazing how relaxing it is to sit outside; the California sun and the slight ocean breeze gently trailing by. When I don’t have something to do, I’ve learned to just take a break— let the wind carry me. I’ll enjoy doing nothing instead of spending the time I have creating more things to do.

Sitting in classes all day, I constantly have class work, homework, fun work, dull work, important work, silly work. Still, I find that even when the work is done, teachers invent busy-work for students to do. It’s nearing the end of the school year; I can almost see summer. At school, we ask for a simple day off from the endless, meaningless worksheets meant to suck away the time. The teacher response is: “The administration won’t let us give you ‘free days.’” Since when did relaxing become such a habit? Enjoy the natural pleasures of life, like a sunny day or the blue sky, instead of all the clutter that clouds these plain wonders.

Daily life has become so convoluted by “things” and “stuff” that people go out of their way to create more stress. There are endless to-do lists. And if there aren’t, new ones need to be made! Walking out the front door of my house, my mom will ask me what I’m doing to do. I’ll tell her that I don’t know; I’m going to hangout. “But what are you going to do when you hangout? There’s so much you need to do!” Doing nothing or “hanging out” isn’t being lazy or passive about life. It’s a way to break from the things to do, stuff that needs to get done, and plans to make for doing things. Life isn’t about the to-do lists, or the master plans. Stop for a moment and put down the planners, the laptops. I know there’s a time to pick them up, but only if we know when to put them back down.

I believe in doing something, too. I’m not saying never do anything, never get off the couch, never make plans, never have ambitions, never strive. I find pleasure in checking things off my to-do list: but I see that our time is competing with the latest, fastest DSL. The world is spinning too fast, and by the time I’m 25, I don’t want to be surrounded only by stuff and realize that I have missed all the opportunities to do nothing. I want to stop and enjoy simplicity like the sun on my cheek and the cars whizzing by. I want to laugh at nothing and have fun doing nothing. Everyone needs some of nothing.