The Importance of Doing Nothing
A couple weeks ago I gave myself the rare gift of taking a slow walk alone. I had no agenda, no destination, and no time limit. It was HEAVEN.
I’ve read many times how important it is to give yourself down time, particularly as an artist, in order to allow your brain to rest and recharge. In fact, it’s often in those times of “doing nothing” that the ideas really start to flow because the brain is relaxed. (Article links below)
It’s amazing how difficult it is to allow oneself this time and freedom. I had to remind myself to slow down, be in the moment, loosen up and PLAY.
Of course, I wasn’t actually doing nothing. I was walking, thinking, looking, and (obviously) taking pictures. But it was something about the meandering nature of the whole excursion that made it special.
What does it mean to meander?
It’s all about intention and direction. Whether it’s a winding or indirect course, like a meandering stream, or an just an aimless wander, a good meander is unstructured, organic, and unhurried. It’s about setting the mind free to ramble as well as letting the route form with each spontaneous step.
It’s a chance to daydream. Ponder. Space-out. Imagine. Muse.
To muse is to think silently, to meditate. About something in particular or nothing at all. The archaic definition includes the act of gazing in a meditative or wondering way. What do you know? That’s just what I do!
Then, of course, there is The Muse – artistic inspiration in goddess form. I think of the muse as anything that inspires awe, reverence, and expression.
Meandering summons The Muse.
My muse is nature. There’s no better way to conjure up fresh ideas, discover a different perspective, think outside the box or form new connections than downtime in the great outdoors.
The place I return to again and again is this lake. Just blocks from my house, Lake Nokomis is my haven in the city. It is never the same place twice.
I could spend hours just gazing at the water! Then there’s the flora and fauna, including all manner of trees, bugs, birds and butterflies, an occasional muskrat and native plant gardens along the shore.
I’m blessed to have this place that is so familiar, yet always new. It’s a perfect meandering spot. Like being with people you love most, the ones who know you best, a favorite place allows you to relax your mind and just be.
Music is another great companion for musing! The October playlist evokes migration, movement, fall colors and the feel of chill autumn days.
FLY (03: October 2019)
The Littlest Birds / Jolie Holland
Free Fallin’ / Tom Petty
Autumn Town Leaves / Iron & Wine
Come In From the Cold / Joni Mitchell
Autumn Leaves / Caamp
She’s a Rainbow / The Rolling Stones
Water Under the Bridge / Tow’rs
Rolling Stone / Wild Rivers
Further to Fly / Paul Simon
Wild Is The Wind / David Bowie
Meet Me Where You’re Going / Cloud Cult
Don’t Let It Get You Down / Johnnyswim
Listen on Spotify here.
RESOURCES on the benefits of Downtime
Simon Gottschalk. In Praise of Doing Nothing, The Conversation, May 31, 2018.
Manfred Kets De Vries. The Importance of Doing Nothing, Forbes, July 1, 2014.
Ferris Jabr. Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime, Scientific American, October 15, 2013.