“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”
I sat from 6.45am to 9am this morning reading the brilliant, ‘ The Idle Parent’ by Tom Hodgkinson.
Putting into non-action the very content I was reading, I let my two year old son kick his football at the fridge, pour water all over the kitchen floor and re open and eat some over priced, organic chocolate that had been left on the table from last night.
I sat in my beanbag, drank tea and read about the importance of letting kids go wild and, be kids.
It’s easy for me. I hardly remember a day of my childhood when I was indoors. Even on the numerous days that I faked sickness to stay at home from school, I would miraculously recover by mid morning and then tear away to the local woods with my Jack Russell terriers to hunt rats and rabbits. By age fifteen I viewed school as optional and proceeded to spend as much time bunking off with my mates as I did turning up for the lessons, of which I still have no idea regards the relevance of.
Despite a lack of money and things, or maybe due to a lack of money and things, my childhood, when parental influence was at a distance, was an immense amount of fun. Local neighborhood culture allowed for us kids to run free all day and often get into trouble with neighbors (they never called the police on us, until we turned sixteen and all acquired mopeds); we had scraps (and sorted all of our own problems out); and if I remember correctly, until the attention of girls became important, I was constantly covered in cuts, scratches, blood, dried sweat and mud.
Yesterday, as I sat viewing our family and work/travel schedule in various countries throughout this year, I noticed my boy playing football with such focus that nothing else seemed to exist for him. It occurred to me that my school holidays really had felt like the endless summer and I didn’t spare a moment’s thought for school until the night prior to returning – and what dread to be ending those long days of freedom and living for the moment.
Unlike many of today’s kids, my friends and I never planned anything resembling a future. Even when asked by adults, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, I’d give an answer knowing that it was a silly question, asked by someone who was looking for inspiration to counter their own dreary ‘grown-up’ life.
And now I have plans and schedules coming out of my ears, for which I can say without hesitation has almost nothing to do with my well being, joy or moments of happiness. My plans may create a nebulous sense of certainty or security, but they also pop me out of being present and doing what may be the only truly meaningful activity for humans – experiencing fun.
Too much ‘doing’ often makes for more stress. Stress as you may know, is a fast way to become sick, stupid and tired.
It’s sometimes good to just cast off the binds and set sail for nowhere in particular, if only for an hour or two. Let the mind wander, play with the kids, breathe, and be present.
So today I decided to leave the kitchen in chaos (sorry Mrs Weeks).
I didn’t open my emails or look at my phone. Instead I knocked off work (honoring what i learned best from school), finished the chocolate and wine from last night, and then went to the park to get muddy and sweaty with little dude and his ball. We followed up by doing lots of nothing in particular, in the rain.
For nostalgic reasons, on the way home I dive bombed my neighbors hedge. Luckily, they didn’t call the police.