Okay, I know the title is going to attract some raised eyebrows, but before you conclude that I must be advocating for apathy or the status quo, read on….
I just spent Winter Break doing essentially what modern society would call “nothing”. I originally had plans to catch up on work, declutter several rooms, get some cooking done, take my daughter to a movie, plan a ski trip, see a friend or two we haven’t seen in a while, and catch up on marking papers. Oh, and finish my tax return. That’s what a teacher and single Mom should be doing when she has a week off, right?
Well, that lasted for the first two days. Then I went into “I am too uninspired to do anything” mode – a state that overcomes me sometimes when I suddenly have time off. Now that it is the day before I go back to work, I’m trying to suppress feelings of “you should have been more organized and gotten a few more things done but you were too lazy to.”
As I was trying to justify my “laziness” by looking up “being okay with doing nothing”, I came across this article, 10 Ways to Enjoy Doing Nothing. Editor of the Idler magazine, Tom Hodgkinson, writes about the value of idleness, and wrote something that really resonated with me, and resonates with this blog:
“Doing nothing is profoundly healing―to yourself and to the planet. It is precisely our restless activity that has caused the environmental crisis. So do some good by taking a break from “doing” and go and lie on your back in a field. Listen to the birds and smell the grass.”
Wow, what better reason do I have to justify doing nothing than that?
And there is so much truth in that. Our society is caught up in more, more, more, whether that is more stuff or more things we should be doing, or places that we should be. Modern life just gets faster and faster, and keeping up is becoming impossible. There is not much value placed on slowing down and actually being without any goals. Imagine, no goals. Perhaps that is what we need, fewer goals. But that is a topic for a post in a different blog….
So, how did my lazy week reduce my environmental impact?
- We stayed home a lot. And the few times we went out, we walked or used public transit.
- All we did mostly was lounge around and watch t.v.; not much energy consumed by an energy-star screen.
- I took a cue from the cat and I had some naps, saving myself some energy, and requiring less food.
- We didn’t do any long-distance travel, so no gas-guzzling car trip or flight.
- I didn’t feel like doing anything that cost money, so we went to the beach, which is just a 15-minute walk away. Beaches and relaxing in nature also don’t require buildings or energy to run.
- We ate mostly vegetarian because I didn’t want to bother grocery shopping, so I used up what was in the fridge. Two points for the environmental benefits of not eating meat and because it led to less food waste.
- I thought up a couple of things to knit up with my current stash of yarn, so I didn’t have to buy more yarn or go to the yarn store.
- I barely spent any time on the computer. I think I was avoiding work, ha, ha. So, some energy savings there.
- More rest and less stress mean less sickness. Especially chronic sickness, for which the treatments can have an environmental impact.
- No schools open. Imagine all the energy saved in running all those buildings and school buses! Maybe they should shorten the school year as an environmental measure?
But seriously. The most important way that my lazy week has had a positive impact on the environment is the bonding time I had with my daughter. As a working only parent, I don’t often feel I can spend hours sitting with my teenage daughter, watching Netflix while eating chocolate and popcorn. It was nice to be inspired to do nothing, and it was nice to have no goals so that I could actually give her more attention. (That is when I could tear myself away from the great series we were watching, ha, ha.) I did want to be a doting stay-at-home Mom after all until circumstances dictated differently and I became a working only-parent instead. It was nice to slow down and experience that, however briefly.
So how does bonding time translate to environmental benefit? Perhaps if we did less, we would have more quality time to spend with the people we care about. We would develop closer relationships with others. And instead of filling the void of our lives with material things our lives would be filled with love, and material things would not matter so much to our happiness.
I think Mr. Idler really hit the mark with his observation, and I am so glad for the excuse not to constantly be in overworked mode anymore.
Here’s to idleness and the environment!