The Lost Art of Doing Nothing

Woman reading and relaxing

To feel the wind in my feet

Here I am at the intersection of rest & relaxation. Why did it take three days, a six-hour flight, and two packages of peanut M&Ms to get here? In Silicon Valley, you are always somewhere between the Next Big Thing (NBT) and NBT v2.0. There’s the side of town where you are and the side where you need to be. Between the rat and the race, there’s Fry’s, the grocery store, and the 24-hour a day job.

Here I am, wandering through a hotel lobby in the wee hours of the morning, searching for wifi. And I am realizing I came to a spa halfway across the country because a spa in Silicon Valley is like a stop sign in vortex. I had to walk away and consciously do nothing. And believe it or not, it’s not as easy as you might think.

An object in motion tends to stay in motion and a mind in motion hankers for continuous distraction. You may feel like sitting still and doing nothing, but you catch a shiny shape out of the corner of your eye and you are drawn to it, and the next and the next. It isn’t easy to put on the mental brakes, but it’s necessary.

Call it a rebooting of the mind. A hard shutdown that is needed to clear the path for fresh thoughts. A way to think clearer, to write again. To take it all in and find out how to observe and enjoy and desire to participate again.

Excuse me while I leave this deserted hotel lobby and go photograph the sunrise over Lake Opechee. I should go back to bed, but this is another of those shiny shapes I can’t resist. I guess that explains why I came to Silicon Valley in the first place. You can leave, but if there’s wifi,you are always connected.

7 Reasons Why Blogs Include Numbered Lists

numbered lists

Numbering Like We Had in 'Nam... NOT

People will read “5 Ways to Lose Abdominal Fat” or “10 Reasons to Bring an AK-47 to Work” while ignoring an article entitled “Reading This Could Save Your Life.” But why?

1. There is an end in sight. If there 10 ways to cook a skunk, you can be sure that after #10, it’s over.

2. You can read the items in any order. Skip around. The subject won’t change.  You won’t get lost.

3. White space. People love white space. It helps them feel like they are reading more than they are.

4. You don’t feel obligated to get to the end. This isn’t great literature. It’s a list. The 7 best practical jokes may be listed, but you can stop at #3 and go buy a whoopie cushion.

5. You always know how close you are to the end. Web pages—and blogs—can go on forever. Numbered lists? Not so much.

6. By item #6, you know if there is any point in continuing. Maybe the author provided 5 really lame reasons to sleep with pigs, but if reason #6 is lame too, you can close the window. {Wait! Don’t click on that little X up in the corner. You only have one more to go.}

7. Our world is chaotic. Numbered lists give a sense of order to the universe. If there are 10 ways to salvation, all is right with the world. If you have to struggle through a Bible, a Kuran, or stone tablets—oh wait, that was a numbered list. Anyway, life is unpredictable enough. Who needs unending stress?