Saturday, November 28, 2009

Doing Nothing is Hard.

I think Holidays are exceptionally hard to handle for driven people. Mandatory world-wide down time is frustrating to people addicted to action and interaction. (It's the kind of thing that could make the world's greatest golfer freak out at two in the morning.) I put myself in the category of those addicted to action. Unplugging from the internet for about 36 hours over Thanksgiving was kind of hard for me. I had a few emails come in from some very driven, very successful people in my life on Thanksgiving night. Didn't surprise me at all. When I was primarily a professional actor I would always send a "year in review" update to all of my professional contacts the day after Thanksgiving. It gave me something to do. Hollywood more or less shuts down between Thanksgiving and New Years. It was always maddening to go from auditioning one or two times per day to about once per week. It was depressing.

These days my professional life is more or less defined, but I have felt those manic urges that always flood my mind after a day or two of "rest" - the compulsion to start writing a new book or to edit an old screenplay or to sign up for some obscure art appreciation class at the community college. I've heard that the ancients didn't have a word for boredom. I don't know if that is true or not...but it seems the more people have to do the more capacity we have to become bored.

My summer vacation this year was more working fun than resting downtime. Since then I haven't stopped. I don't feel physically exhausted. I've had days to rest and relax. I just feel like I am on one of those remote control race car tracks that goes in circles at high speeds and never ends. Here's a helpful hint that I have learned - the harder you run, the harder it is to stop. The first few days of trying to "rest" tend to be very frustrating. It's hard to detox from doing. At a similar time in my life years ago, I went on a spiritual retreat - 3 days of silence and solitude in a beautiful monastery in San Jose. I slept 20 of the first 24 hours. That should tell you something.

Debbie and I are heading to Cancun next week for five days to celebrate 15 years of wedded bliss. It is not our normal sort of vacation - we tend to like cities, musicals, movies and urban action. Our tenth year anniversary trip was to San Francisco. That's more us, really. But I think this is what we need - a self-imposed lock down in an all-you-can-eat-and-drink tropical resort sounds about right for 15 years of marriage. I have a hunch the first day of doing nothing may be harder than I expect...but I fully intend to get used to doing nothing before coming back to face winter number three in the Great Midwest.

“Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.” -Winnie the Pooh


Steve Fuller said...

I feel ya. I honestly don't have the ability to do nothing. My brain never stops. I think that's why I started writing fiction. It's "fun" work.

I guess that's why we develop hobbies, right? To take a break from "work," but still be "working."

Daniel Kalbach said...

John Daly freaked out at 2 in the morning?

Kristi J said...

Good post, I can totally relate.

Michael Joseph Sharp said...

... you have no children, I see.

As my good friend and mentor would say, "we all serve a Master, ... we all revolve around something."

photogr said...

Wait till you think you can retire and enjoy the easy laid back life style with nothing to do.

I am more busy now than I was when I was working 50 hour work weeks. Not enough time in the day anymore.

Bekah said...

Oh, that is SO right!!
You have EXACTLY the same number of followers I do...oops, I just started following you. So you're one ahead of me now. ^^
Blessings in Christ,