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My Hero: Mr. Zero

At times I have nothing to say. This is not necessarily a bad thing, just is. Doing nothing usually fails to get the respect it deserves. After all, nothing is the sacred state coveted by Zen practitioners, secluded monks, and other pursuers of enlightenment, so there must be something to it. “Nothing” was the holy grail of the Seinfeld TV show, the concept that launched the mega-millionaires into a life where they could do…nothing, if they wished. Do you ever hear overworked cubicle-mates say with a smile, when asked about what they’re doing on their three-day weekends, “nothing.” Probably not often enough.

Yes, “nothing” is the new trophy wife of the overworked, the hidden objective on all our secret lists, and the easiest-so-say, but hardest-to-do, stretch goal we have. I once heard a group of middle-schoolers describe what they would do if they had all the money they could ever want. One particularly thoughtful girl, after a long pause, replied “Nothing….cause my Daddy says to do that is the most expensive thing in the world.”

In our fast-paced world where most of us struggle to get everything done in a day, the opposite of being busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger is to do nothing, or be un-busy. Sometimes the cure is an abrupt reversal of the causal agent. The shock of this move, if nothing else, will make one assess what’s really important in life. And I can think of nothing more cathartic than to stop and smell the flowers, so to speak. So the next time you head off for a weekend of medicinal reversalness, and your co-workers ask you what you’re up to this weekend, you can wryly smile and say, “Nothing”…and that’s something.

2 comments to My Hero: Mr. Zero

  • Fantastic post! I often hear from a lot of fellow would-be academics that part of the reason they choose to spent their 20s in school is because of the myriad chances for free-time the academic lifestyle provides. I second it, since I find that my chances to do NOTHING for hours on end come at least weekly.

    I find that my busier friends get very angry with the idea that I am “able” to do this, but I did trade a student loan debt that could buy three loaded Mustangs (GTs!), a nice paycheck and my 20s to get this far. I think people don’t want to make the trade to get time for Nothing, like Thoreau did. I have to give a paper in two weeks on Thoreau’s notion of sacrifice, that he gave up things not because they were bad, but because the cost was too high. I don’t think that most people realize that they have a choice to, like the dad in AMERICAN BEAUTY, give it all up and work at a job they would enjoy more — and screw the status and paycheck crap.

    Roundabout way of saying that I think everyone wants the Nothing time, but few people are willing to give up what they need to in order to get it:)

    (I’m very glad you’re back blogging, Gary, btw.)

  • Joy

    Welcome back, Gary.

    Despite the guilt I frequently feel about not being more ‘productive’, I enjoy doing nothing–or at least nothing much.