The Immobile Arts

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Waking up at the crack of noon, I hesitated peeling the eye mask off my face for fear that the explosion of sunlight might trigger a sneezing fit. It was another weekend of back-to-back gigs with my band, and I decide to savor the last few moments of darkness provided by my trusty eye mask, sandwiched between my fluffy comforter and comfy pillow-top mattress.I started counting in my head… 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12… good. That means I’ve had about eight hours of sleep now.

Next on the agenda, 30 minutes of slowly rising into a sitting position to watch SpongeBob SquarePants. First up, it’s the episode where SpongeBob’s klutzy cousin Stanley S. SquarePants comes to visit. As I turn up the volume, the following conversation ensues:

SpongeBob SquarePants (character)Patrick:  Looking for your calling, huh? Hmmm. So what are you good at?

Stanley:  Nothing.

Patrick:  Nothing at all?

Stanley:  Yep.

Patrick:  Interesting. Let’s see how good you are at nothing.

SpongeBob: That’s perfect! Patrick can do nothing better than anyone! You’ll be learning from the master!

Patrick: Come with me. First, sit down on this chair. Clear your mind. Empty it of all thoughts. Until you’re doing absooooluuuuuutely nooooothiiiiiiing (Patrick hunches over with glazed eyes, drool suspended in mid-air, to the sound of a cow mooing)

Stanley sits, but no sooner, his foot starts tapping, eyes start twitching, sweat rolling down his forehead, the ticking clock pounding in his brain. Hard as he tries, he just can’t sit still.

Stanley:  I can’t do it!!!!

Patrick: You’re not worthy of instruction in the Immobile Arts! Leave my presence!!!

Ah, yes. The Immobile Arts. The art of doing absolutely nothing. Now how many of you actually practice this? We are a society of super-achievers and wonder-women, multi-taskers with over-booked calendars. While I am guilty of pushing the limits of endurance and sanity, there is one thing I have learned to do quite well – nothing.

Several years ago, while attending a professional business women’s conference inSan Francisco, I sat in on a talk by a woman who espoused “mastering the tyrant within.” One of the messages that really stuck was that “sometimes, good enough is good enough.” Caught up in a perfection-obsessed world, this was news to me. Growing up, my adult role-models always encouraged me to “do better, do more” and so it was a never-ending quest to get to the top of Mt.Never-Rest.

After that conference, I took inventory of everything I did, and carefully determined which activities demanded perfection, and which didn’t. Super-squeaky clean floors? I can live with dust-bunnies here and there. Community involvement? Only as a volunteer for select events and fundraisers. Corporate ladder?  I like the flexibility of working from home. I don’t need to run the world. As I slowly re-organized my life and re-arranged my priorities, my me-time increased and my stress level dropped significantly.

I then decided that the one activity requiring perfection was the art of doing nothing, which I discovered, was a critical part of doing everything else well.

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