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PARKER: The sweetness of doing nothing

Image Credit: Compilation/Jennifer Stahn
May 13, 2014 - 6:52 AM

I spent the first three months of last summer unemployed.

It wasn’t an “I’m living off of EI” unemployment, either. I tried that route but they didn’t buy the story about me taking a female lover and leaving my job to follow her to the B.C. Interior. Fair enough, I suppose. 

Without the pressure of logging government job-search hours, I found myself in the midst of the most pleasant days of my life. People often asked me silly questions like, “What do you even do with your days?” And, while I would always give long and elaborate answers, I always got the same confirming response — “So, nothing?” — served with a giant side of disdain.

I read an essay in Fashion magazine recently (yes, I know I could have lied and said The Walrus or something, but whatever) that started talking about the concept of busy-ness equalling success and how society has started shaming the idea of leisure into non-existence. 

It hit me hard.

See, I’m on a month long holiday right now. I know what you’re thinking — what does this girl even do to warrant a holiday? Right? I’m so Hashtag Blessed.

Anyway, I’m currently writing this in bed after driving through the English countryside and spending the day beside the sea, gallivanting and whatnot. Yesterday, I went to London for the day and — apart from eating seven overpriced-but-totally-worth-it Laduree macaroons and meeting a friend for a champagne cocktail at The Ritz — accomplished sweet, sweet nothing. 

I’m not trying to rub it in. Honest. In reality, the majority of my non-holiday days look quite similar. I mean, yes, I forego the $40 cocktail and opt for one that costs $4, but the rest of it — the nothing part — that part is me to a T.

People ask so expectantly — “So, tell me about your day.”

If you respond with anything less than the most banal, exhausting and soul-sucking to-do list, they look at you like you’re nothing but lazy and peculiarly pathetic.

Of course we all get busy sometimes. I just had a two-month stretch where, if I could give you my attention for more than five minutes, you were probably either criminally good-looking or paying me. Ideally, you were both — but that gives an impression I’m not certain I want floating around the Internet.

Unless you’re willing.

I was somewhat successful during that time, but moreso I was miserable. Sure, I accomplished things. I got all As, as a matter of fact (you’re welcome, Mom), but is that what it’s all about? Is success only measured by how well we perform while throwing our lives to the dogs and feeling like crap? Why is it that we feel so brilliantly smug when we tell people our lives are mayhem? 

Now, I completely understand if you don’t want to take life advice from Fashion magazine or from some girl who has found herself lucky enough to spend a month overseas, but at least take advice from Eat, Pray, Love, OK? 

Gilbert introduces us to the Italian saying “l’arte di non fare niente” – the sweetness of doing nothing — and we all know how that book turns out. She falls in love with a hot importer/exporter named Phillipe and writes a best-seller. 

Sign me up.

All I know is I’d rather measure success by how satisfied I am with my mental state at the end of the day. And, sure, a champagne cocktail at The Ritz and a good pair of heels probably didn’t hurt (that’s a lie, the heels hurt something fierce), but yesterday was one of the most successful days I think I’ve ever had.

— Andria is a twenty-something blogger living in Kamloops with her 100 pairs of heels and 200 paperback Penguin Classics.

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