This Labor Day, I had a fair amount of “labor” planned: amending garden soil, dusting, laundry, basically a line up of chores to take advantage of the rare Monday holiday.
My list of things to do felt rather uninspiring and although necessary to do at some point, boring. I do not want to live a boring life. Ever! But, in our family, we need to “get our ducks in a row” before we can have fun or relax. I’m not suggesting that kind of thinking is a good idea, it’s just how we have been programmed to operate.
Then I remembered a conversation with our dear friend, Claudio. This summer while enjoying an afternoon of doing nothing and feeling great about it, Claudio in his deep Italian voice, reminded us of the expression, “Dolce Far Niente”, literal translation, “sweet to do nothing”. So lovely is this concept that the French use this expression as well. Or so we were told.
I’m not sure how many Italians and French actually practice this sweet art of doing nothing, but the concept is lovely nevertheless.
I rethought my day. What if I abandoned the idea of chores on a day off? What might a day without chores feel like? Will I be able to relax knowing that work is to be done in the very near future? Is dusting really that important?
My brain couldn’t get a handle on how to do nothing when there was work to be done. My thought process was digressing to, “What shall I do if I don’t do chores?” Goodness, I was I actually making a plan to do nothing.
How does doing nothing require any planning at all if nothing is to be done?
I was over thinking the thinking.
So, all chores abandoned, my husband and I took the bikes down and went for a ride around our town. A long one, 4 hours to be exact.
Now, riding a bike is definitely not doing nothing, but a chore it is not! This is what I noticed:
I felt the sun on my skin.
I noticed how dry California is in early September.
I heard the sounds of a siren, train, birds chirping.
I was refreshed with a cold beer when we spontaneously stopped to visit my nephew.
I felt relaxed. Grateful.
And, every now and then, I noticed that I wasn’t thinking of anything, until I started thinking about not thinking.
Not every minute of every day needs to be filled with something to do.
Tomorrow, I dust!
For those interested in the History of Labor Day