The Inertia

Mastering The High Art of Slowing Down and Doing Nothing

Pascal slowing down somewhere in Indo. Photo: Thefreesurfer.com


The Inertia

We live in a time where we’re told that time is money. We try to live in a more time-effective way, doing everything at once all in an effort to not lose any of that precious time. We’re reading emails during breakfast, so we don’t have to do it in the office. We’re reading the news on the way to work, so we don’t have to do it during the break. And we drink our coffee in front of screens, as having a coffee-break is using too much time. Lunch break? Well…if we really have to, but it’s much more convenient in front of our computer–you never know…maybe we have to answer another email.

Our phone is on the table during dinner, and it’s normal to pick it up a dozen times to answer calls or chat with some friends or strangers, while the real faces with real voices around our table slowly become strangers. Shopping is done online as well as dating and most other things we still consider fun and/or necessary.

We became masters in saving time, but where did it go? The more time we save, the less time we seem to have. Is it because we buy more and more things, or because we’ve got more and more friends online to talk to? Always one eye on the smartphone to never miss a thing and to get everything done in an instant, but there it still seems that there is just never enough time.

What I actually want to talk about is the high art of slowing down and doing nothing. First, let’s define art as “something of a certain beauty without a direct benefit.” It’s really a pretty simple way of looking at things: Everyone has the same amount of time each day, the question is just how much time you take. That’s it! Simple as that!

First: Don’t read your emails during breakfast. Eat, drink, and think about what you’re eating and drinking. Be aware of what you do, and enjoy it, whatever it is. Don’t read the news for once; look out the window instead. Of course you’ve seen the view a million times before, but when was the last time you really SAW it? Right now, stop reading this for a moment, look out the window, and really LOOK at the view. Slow down for a minute. Take a coffee break and talk to each other. And leave your phone in your pocket during dinner. Try to have a real conversation with the people around you before they become strangers, rather than talking online with people who already are.

Second: Take time for what you love. And if you don’t know what you love, take time for what you used to love–chances are you might still love it. Surfing is something that takes up a lot of our time. Not only weekends and vacations, but also a lot of time we could spend with people we love. But if it keeps us fit and happy, we’re better company for the people around us during the time we are actually around them.

Surfing can be both a blessing and a curse. But if we try to treasure every moment in the water, and do it with all our heart, rather than just doing it simply because we do it, it is time well spent. But if you’re just paddling out because it is the thing to do, you’re not going to appreciate it as much. If you’ve lost that feeling you first found when you caught your first wave, or did your first turn, or got your first barrel… well, try to find it again.

Finally: Slow down and simply do nothing. Of course, this is super easy if we surf perfect, hollow waves. Slowing down and doing nothing is more beautiful inside a barrel than anywhere else, no doubt about it. But sometimes we don’t have barrels, or maybe we don’t surf well enough to get barreled. But once we catch a wave, we can stand on our board and do absolutely nothing. We can stand on our board and enjoy nature doing everything around us and for us.

Barrels or not, the simple act of riding a wave is one of the most astonishing and surreal things we can do. And for a few fleeting moments, we have absolutely nothing to do but to slow down and do nothing.

Maybe you need to become a master of barrel riding first, or maybe it is enough to leave your phone in your pocket when you’re waiting for someone the next time. Take your time to do nothing, instead of spending your time doing something that actually doesn’t need to be done right then. Stop distracting yourself and take pleasure in the simplest of acts… doing NOTHING. Take your time to look around you and to take it all in, whether it’s just nature as it is, or the people around you in their twenty-second century natural habitat of the big city jungle. Watch time go by, and smile. Smile because you know you’ve still got time. Just as everyone else actually has time… even if we’re all complaining that we don’t.

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