What would you do if you had nothing to do?

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”

– John Lennon (and many others before him)

We are all so busy but how much of that busy is really living? How much is just a distraction from what is really going on? How much of what we do is really necessary? We have all of these things that we feel like we have to do but what if it wasn’t true?

I’ve become fond of saying that there are only three things we have to do everyday: eat, sleep and shit. I realize that there is plenty wrong with that statement. It’s more of a mantra than a biological fact. I use this somewhat vulgar expression to shock me back into the present moment. Basically, as long as I’m not so tired I can’t stand up, as long as I’m not so hungry I can’t move, as long as my bowels aren’t ready to explode… everything else can wait.

People are so fond of schedules and making plans but is it really because we have so much to do that we would never get it done if we didn’t have a schedule or a plan? Or is it because we are so afraid of what we would do if we had nothing to do?

Don’t get me wrong, I love being busy. I miss how busy I was this past summer. I loved always having something to do. Living was easier even though the things I was doing were hard. Even though I had no time for friends, family, music or home I felt like what I was doing was life affirming. I was living.

But that’s over now. Yesterday I had no plans. There was nothing I had to do. There were still lots and lots of things I could do, but beyond eat, sleep and shit; nothing I had to do.

I spent a lot of time in quiet contemplation waiting for inspiration to strike. I had very little contact with the outside world. It was just me and my feelings. I did cry a little, I laughed a little but nothing that really moved me to action. I wasn’t bored exactly. I wasn’t lonely. I wasn’t anxious or eager or frustrated or angry or in love. I was just content.

I’m sure for many that sounds wonderful. To me it sounds like Death.

So I shook hands with Death.  I said, “Pleased to meet you.” We shared a beer and watched a movie until I was too tired to stay awake. When I woke this morning I could still smell the scent of his cologne but he was gone.

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What do I want?

I recently heard an author state that the first ingredient to story telling is that the character needs to want something. It doesn’t matter what it is. I could be a glass of milk but as long as the character is seeking something the reader will follow to see if they get it.

Well, I’m the main character in this story so what is it that I want?

That’s not as easy of a question to answer as one might think. It is the question that sits front and center in my brain today yet I do not have a clear answer.

Theoretically, I have the day off so I am free to seek whatever I want. I say theoretically because when you are an independent self-employed artist type you never really have a day off. Also, when you deal with chronic illness and injury you never get a day off. Every day I am seeking something. I am seeking understanding, I am seeking fulfillment, I am seeking purpose and I am seeking connection.

Today is a gift.

I can go in any direction I want. It’s a beautiful day and I could just get on my bike and ride. With no plan or expectation I could just see where the day takes me. I love days like that but what I want now is some sort of direction. I’ve got my dreams and they give me direction but right now they seem too far away and I can see no clear path to get there. I am at a point where any step I make will be a step forward yet I stand here, looking all around, frozen, not knowing which way to go.

Life, or at least making life choices, is easier when driven by needs rather than wants, but as I strive to simplify my life I’m discovering how few needs I actually have and most of them are fulfilled at the moment. I got a good night’s sleep, had my morning poop and my addictions to caffeine and nicotine have been satisfied. I’m sure eventually I will need to eat but it’s not like I have to go hunt or gather my meal. At best, that will take up half an hour of my day.

This is not boredom.

My life feels very full these days, often overwhelmingly so, yet in this moment of quiet contemplation, I am aware that something is missing. On this day without structure, without demands, without needs to fulfill and without challenges to overcome I am presented with an opportunity.  I have an opportunity to discover what is missing in my life.

How will I rise to this occasion?

Will I sit in meditation or will I take action?

Sometimes it’s better to just do something, anything and sometimes it better to just do nothing, to listen to the silence, to wait for the answer to appear.

For today, what is my motivation?

For today, what do I want?

… tune in tomorrow to find out.

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