Doing nothing is doing everything

I think of energetic people as active, always on the move. Energy equates in my mind to restlessness. But paradoxically, the more energy I come to have, the more I discover greater depths of patience. More energy means I can move more, but it also gives me a greater capacity to be genuinely still.

At my sickest when energy didn’t come close to covering the basics of my life-needs, I would spend a lot of time sitting still, simply because that was all that was within my power. Energy conservation through not moving, not speaking, often not thinking even. But it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. And I had no capacity for enjoying it. My body ached to be active, so although I was unmoving, I was far from still inside.

Now I find that having more energy means I have attention to spare which I can spend in doing everything — or just as happily in doing nothing.

Today, with the luxury of being on holiday when the usual rules of time don’t apply, I have spent quite a lot of time and energy doing not much. Not because that’s all I could physically do, but because I’ve been positively revelling in inactivity. Idleness with energy is a wonderful thing. With energy comes a greater capacity for enjoyment. Il dolce far niente, or whatever the French equivalent is.

A fig tree silhouette

So today I’ve been enjoying scents: I love the smells of mediterranean plants — fig trees, resinous pine trees, sun-burnt grass and the slightly metallic scent of a vineyard.

I’ve been enjoying the feeling of summer on my skin: yes the warmth of the sunshine, but also the sudden welcome coolness of a breeze or of my mum fanning the back of my neck, or even the sweat trickling down the back of my knees.

IMG_4480I’ve been enjoying the light: shadows on the balcony, the confident blue of the summer sky, the shades of green in the garden, the light, bright stonework of the local buildings.

Attending to these details requires concentration and energy, even now when it’s starting to become a habit in itself, this mindfulness, this attention to minutiae.

photoAnd at the end of a lazy day a companionable evening of reading, sipping wine, chatting — and me doing a jigsaw puzzle. For me this used to be the epitome of wasted energy: why spend so much trouble putting a fragmented picture together again for such a temporary sense of satisfaction? Now it’s a trivial bit of shared entertainment with Hubby. Its ultimate pointlessness is somehow the pleasure. I have energy to burn!

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