The Essential Practice of Nothing

i had a goal yesterday.  to do nothing.

for 15 minutes.

and i failed.  miserably.

i bought groceries.  cleaned the house.  answered emails.  fed my son.  changed diapers.  i watched TV.  made phone calls.  i organized an upcoming trip.  worked out.  ran errands.  had my sister over.  i ate standing up.  i read.  i fretted.  i fussed.  finally, i slept.

but I could not sit.  just be.  without spotting a stray crumb on the counter.  without anxiety creeping up over the neglected toilets.  without believing the world would stop for a delayed email response.

and that worries me.

because it got me thinking.  how often does the glow of the computer screen burn my eyes as my son is gurgling at me from the floor?   do my eyes stay a little too fixed on the clock as i nurse him each night in my cushy pistachio rocker? does it count as quality time if i’m scrubbing remnants of dinner off a pot as my husband sprawls on the couch alone, watching a movie?

i don’t want find my worth in the absence of black fluffs freckling the cream carpet.  in polished chrome.  in promptly answered emails.  in tidy check-marks beside obsessively itemized lists.

i want it find it in number of times i can make my  little love giggle.  in humming ‘His eye is on the sparrow’,  as he snuggles down into my arms.  in trying to cover the whole backyard in snow angels.  in the hours spent spotting dinosaur-shaped clouds, while feeling soft prickles of grass caress our cheeks.  in date night.  i want a never ending stream of check-marks marching beside such essentials as: play superheroes, cuddle on the couch, savor dessert.

i’m not there yet.  i so want to be there.


“. . . i just want to say that all this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings. “

kathleen kelly, you’ve got mail


and so i try again tonight.

i set aside the laptop.  and the phone.

and i sit.

i’ve just begun, and i hear a voice.  soft.  clear.  definitely familiar.  but it’s been a while.

“my child . . .how i’ve missed you”

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