The Zen Of Doing Nothing

How to move without moving. I want things to happen; I just don’t happen to want to do any of them. The garbage needs to be taken out, and new clothes need to be bought because the kids are growing out of the old ones, and dinner has to be made, and the kitchen needs to be cleaned first. But how can all this occur in the most Zen-like way? How can I get things moved without moving a muscle?

Ah-ha! The dishes must wash themselves! Or somehow I must plant a dish-cleaning meme into the mind of the universe, and then have it transmitted into the mind of my wife or kids, so that the dishes will magically be clean when I go into the kitchen to start considering how to get dinner to make itself. I know that if I wait long enough one of two things will happen: Either somebody will do the dishes — out of a sense of guilt or obligation or threat of losing their allowance or pride (Ha ha, that’s a good one); or nobody will do the dishes, and even worse, they’ll mess up the kitchen more — they’ll rummage around and repot plants and spill blueberries all over the floor, and let in a thousand flies who’ll be buzzing around the garbage that needs to be put out. And each fly could be an ancestor so they’ll all need to be carefully persuaded to go back outside to the big garbage can where they belong. In this case my plan doesn’t work.

But if my plan doesn’t work, then I don’t work. That’s my Zen solution. If the kitchen isn’t clean, I’ll just make the mess disappear by disappearing myself. I’ll turn off my phone and stroll over to the cafe chanting my mantra and have a nice little bit of sustenance, and let someone else do the cooking and the cleaning. Maybe I’ll invite my wife to join me, and it’ll be a night out doing nothing, and we can hire a babysitter to take care of the kids and take them to the store to buy the clothes, and wash the dishes, and I won’t have to do anything except find a way to pay for it all.

Maybe I won’t even have to pay for it, because my wife just went to the bank, so she’ll pay for it, although she would be paying with my money. But what is my money really? It’s no more mine than are the mountains or the air or the earth. In truth, the money belongs to the Treasury of the United States of America, in order to settle all debts, both public and private. So I’ll just pass it along to the people at the cafe and let them worry about how to eventually return it to its rightful owners. The less I have, the less I have to worry about.

Or maybe somebody else will buy me dinner. I’ll send out a thoughtform into the ozone of godliness that I want to be treated to dinner, and someone who owes me money, or a favor, or is a long-lost tribesman, or has a karmic debt to the universe to pay off, will invite me to their table to join them. It has happened before, why not tonight? If you believe in God and have faith, then all sorts of ridiculous things are possible. If God can part the Red Sea, then how hard can it be to buy me dinner?

And if that doesn’t work, I’ll just pay with my credit card and let the universe worry about how I’m ever going to pay it back.

Doing nothing is not nothing-doing. If you say “nothing-doing,” then you have already defeated the possibility of synchronicity and miracles occurring. Doing nothing is a practice and practice makes perfect, and nothing is perfect and so I’m perfectly happy to do nothing.

Summer is the best time to do nothing. Don’t ask me why; it just seems like God created nothing in the summer, sometime after the baseball game, and the picnic, and the swim in the lake. S(He) crawled up on the beach and lay down in the sun and the next thing you knew, there was nothing, perfect in form, and thought, and tanned to a lightly golden brown.

During the rest of the year, our routines and circumstances seem to get the better of us. We’ve got fewer hours of daylight to get things done, and just waking up and getting out of bed on a cold December morning, while it’s still dark out, and trying to get warm, bundling up with heavy woolen clothes and dragging frozen logs into the wood stove, we are burdened with all the struggles of the world. But on a summer day, time seems to stretch to infinity. School is out, and we don’t have to yell at the kids to get their homework done, or go to bed early, or even to take baths. They’ve already been swimming or maybe they’re not even around to worry about; they’re off at camp, or over at their friend’s for the night. We don’t have to cook them dinner, and perfectly balance each meal with the right proportion of vitamins and minerals and proteins and green vegetables that they’ll make faces at, and yellow ones that they’ll spit out when we’re not looking.

Instead, we can lay in the hammock and read a trashy novel, and go eat a dinner of watermelon and potato chips when we get hungry. Nobody cares and nobody’s watching. And nobody loves doing nothing as much as me.

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