I’m writing this post on Saturday morning. Tomorrow morning, I’ll marry Anne, the most beautiful woman and the finest human being I’ve ever known.
For a while this morning, we sat drinking coffee together, talking of our wedding and the trip we’ll take afterward. Anne said, “When people ask me what we’re going to do while we’re away, I tell them, ‘Nothing.'”
I said, “I told two people I met with yesterday that I’m completely at peace when I fly because — on a plane, with all means of communication ‘in the off position’ — I’m completely inaccessible. I simply can’t assume responsibility or accountability for anything while I’m in the air.”
That’s what we’re going to do while we’re away. Nothing. We’ll be responsible for no one and accountable for nothing. We’ll be inaccessible to everyone and everything, except ourselves. Our time will be ours and ours alone.
That realization put me in mind of something written by the brilliant John Gierach, in his equally brilliant book, Fool’s Paradise. Gierach is often mistaken for a fisherman. (I’m not.) In actuality, he’s a philosopher. That enables him to write powerful and profoundly simple truths like this:
I’ve come to think that getting bored only means you’ve failed to master the fine art of doing nothing when there’s nothing to be done: a skill you can learn from any house cat.
As I write this post, Anne is off to her Pilates class. I sit at my desk, in my office, in splendid silence, as Sammy sleeps, serenely untroubled, to my left. Knowing Sammy as I do, I suspect he’s keenly aware, even in the depths of his slumber, that he’s conducting a Master Class in the fine art of doing nothing.
There’s nothing to be done: He’s had his breakfast, joined us at the kitchen table for coffee, shared his affection with rubs, nuzzles, and cat kisses. Now, with the sum total of his responsibility and accountability fulfilled, he’s doing exactly what he should be doing: nothing.
Anne and I will be doing nothing next week. The sum total of our responsibility and accountability will be to enjoy each other and the time we share. Anne will master it. I’ll give it my best shot. And then we’ll be back to what passes for the real world.
In the meantime, if you have trouble mastering the fine art of doing nothing, Sammy is available to give lessons — in between naps, of course.