I have a friend who was raised to “turn the mattresses,” as he calls it. For him, a moment of doing nothing was a sin. His father drummed it into the family that there’s always something that can be done, and if you can’t think of anything, then go turn all the mattresses in the house! And even today in his adult life, my friend can’t help feeling that doing nothing is never ok.
Making quite the opposite point, my cyper-pal Liz just posted a wonderful piece on simplicity: A Rendezvous of Musings. She makes a good case for shifting our focus to the simple things – including quiet time.
Now I know that society would come to a halt if we never wanted to turn the metaphoric mattresses. I’m certainly not suggesting that. It’s fun to get immersed in wonderful projects – especially those we really care about. And it’s fun to feel that sense of accomplishment from our efforts.
But there’s also a great pleasure that comes from the space in between things. The downtime where nothingness actually re-energizes us and sparks creativity. And from simplifying our lives rather than making them more complex. More is not always more – and so often it’s much less.
Each person is different and has a different need for stimulation and socialization. Like Liz, I’m at the introvert end of the spectrum and really treasure my quieter moments. Yet I have friends who thrive on more activity and that’s great too. Each to his own.
But too often, the messages from society – work, family, friends, media – tell us we MUST go go go! I think anyone can find value from taking a breather and adding those oh so healing times of nothingness. And I want you to know there is no sin to that!
In those moments unencumbered by obligation or the need to accomplish anything or be anything but who we really are, we give ourselves time to heal and grow. From the quiet springs new life. And hopefully, some challenging new mattresses.