Just sittin’

Photo by Jess Loiterton on Pexels.com

I’ve been doing a lot of nothing during the month of February and it’s been liberating. Doing nothing, just hanging around, watching Netflix or just wasting time is not wasting time. There’s a first time for everything and for the last few weeks I’ve really enjoyed doing nothing; for me it’s been surprisingly worthwhile. It’s something that I have not allowed myself to do do very often. I’m used to having a number of “must do” activities to accomplish during the day in order to feel good and productive, and if not accomplished during the day, sometimes continuing in to the night. So much to learn, so much to take care of, so much to prepare for, so many perspectives and subjects to understand as a way to understand my perspective.

Doing nothing means not to push myself, to not prod, to not try to control my time (and outcome), or to squeeze as much as possible out of one’s day. I have not squandered my time. While I don’t have a bucket list, there are some things that I’d like to do before the end, and since the end could be tomorrow, I tend to use my time to do them. In meditation or through breathing exercises, it says to use this exercise “to not accomplish anything”, to just be in the here and now. By slowing down and not pushing myself, it allows me to look within and take apart assumptions and expectations – of myself and others.

Retirement has not been a time when I do nothing. I’ve got an activity list, obligations, bills to pay and challenges to face. I find myself constantly looking at my watch and spending too much time reading emails, texts and solicitation on my phone or MacBook.

When I embarked on “off the hook” nearly five years ago, I had pent up demand to participate in activities I had often dreamed about but did not have the time to pursue: drawing and lettering (artwork), biking with friends, reading fiction. Volunteering to address climate change at the local level and defeating Trump’s re-election bid. I’ve been cooking Mediterranean cuisine, vacationing in Florida, and before Covid, traveling overseas.

Charles Darwin said, “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life”. Much of my off the hook time has been about living (alone with myself and with family and friends), and exploring and writing and being creative. That takes time, motivation, effort and sacrifice.

I’ve grown to binge on series like Succession, The Imposters, Dirty John. While I doubt very much that I will be speaking about any of these shows while on my deathbed, I now find just relaxing with them worthwhile. I started watching Mad Men again since it first aired in 2007, and Seinfeld episodes I missed or never saw in the first place.

It feels really good to just waste time {“watching the ships roll in, then I watch ’em roll away again”) …. as the incomparable Otis Reading muses in his “Dock of the Bay”:

….”So I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay, Watchin’ the tide roll away, ooh, I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay, wasting’ time …. Sittin’ here restin’ my bones …. Now I’m just gon’ sit, at the dock of the bay, Watchin’ the tide roll away, ooh yeah ….I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay, Wastin’ time.

Published by Richard Halpern

Retired (but busy) after a lengthy career in business marketing, communications and research. Worked at four start-ups and one turnaround. Now volunteer doing prospect research for a climate activity and social advocacy non profit, amongst other things.

5 thoughts on “Just sittin’

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