Do Nothing

CELEBRATE This Week [239]


Last Saturday, Sam hung his list of summer goals on the fridge. I didn’t ask him to make a list, he just did it on his own. “Why you make a list?” Jay asked.

“So summer doesn’t slip away and I don’t do the important stuff,” Sam said.

I scanned his list and was charmed by it. In the photo, I highlighted the one that gave me pause, do nothing. “Do nothing?” I asked aloud.

“That’s an important one,” Sam said. Jordan grunted a laugh.

“Seriously,” Sam insisted. “You have to take time to do nothing otherwise you won’t ever fully relax.”

“What kinds of things do you think you’ll do when you do nothing?”

Sam rolled his eyes. “I think you’re missing the point, Mom. You do nothing.”

“I’m not sure I know how to do nothing.”

Sam considered this for a moment. “Well, when we go and sit outside in the morning and watch the world go by, that’s doing nothing. When we go down to the bridge and throw rocks or walk along the bank, that’s doing nothing. When we read a book after lunch, that’s doing nothing. When I go fishing, that’s kinda doing nothing.”

I nodded. “So you slow down?”

“Yes. You have time to think.”

During the first summer as a momma, I came across a quote that still demands attention from me —

If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live.
-Lin Yutang

Today I will follow Sam’s lead and create my own Summer To Do List. May I be brave and wise enough to add do nothing to my list.

This post is part of a weekly offering to celebrate in the middle of the muddle. I hope you join the celebration!

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  1. Ruth – This is another thoughtful and timely post! I forwarded this one to all the faculty in my school! VERY IMPORTANT to remember – that doing of NOTHING. I teach a philosophy unit with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders and we discuss the question – Is it possible to do nothing? using Tony Fucile’s book Let’s Do Nothing. Lots of wisdom comes from children – we just have to listen!

  2. I’m going to wish for a “do nothing” day. The way Sam describes it sounds quite perfect! Happy weekend, Ruth!

  3. Sam’s descriptions of doing nothing are perfect. Hope we all find those kinds of moments this summer. I am trying to include them thoughtfully during the days of recovery from surgery (in the middle of keeping track of meds and exercises, therapy and doctor appointments) and give high priority to them for their healing power. I will add “when you sit with a friend who dropped by to visit and just chat.”

  4. I wish you could visit me at the lake. We have perfected the art of doing nothing. And it’s wonderful. And I love Sam’s list!

  5. Could Psalm 46:10 fit into the description of doing nothing while trusting in the power of God for your life?

  6. Such a smart boy! He has the right idea, make a list and be sure to check it to make sure the summer doesn’t slip away. I enjoy those do nothing kind of days. Today it is hot and muggy which makes it a perfect do nothing outside day. Perhaps we can spend a little time doing nothing in a few weeks and nibble on an ice cream cone at the same time. 🙂

  7. Doing nothing – slowing down with time to think! This is the best definition, Sam. Looking forward to some time to do nothing this summer. Sam’s list in inspiring. I love that it’s filled with all the things he loves. Somehow we’ve lost the art of doing the things we love. I’m planning on putting more of these on my summer to-do list.

  8. Today was kinda my first day of summer (teachers have to go back on Monday …one more day) and I sat with my mom and … did nothing. We chatted. I closed my eyes to rest. After some time went by I said to her, “I never just do nothing.” It was amazing!! I 100% agree with Sam that it is necessary and healthy! I didn’t get as much done on my other to do list, but that list will be there tomorrow! Enjoy creating your list and finding where you will squeeze in a little do nothing. 💜

    After reviewing Sam’s list, I also think you should add:
    be cool ✔️
    Finish this list ✔️
    (With completed checkmarks! 😊)

  9. It strikes me that although you told Sam you weren’t sure you knew how to “do nothing,” you are the undoubtedly the one who taught him everything he knows about doing “nothing.” How lovely that he reminds you of what your heart knows!