The Art of Being Idle

Being idle.

I mean idle with purpose, Not just lounging because you can’t be bothered, or you’re in pain or overly tired, but planning your idleness, making it last and giving it purpose.That was my day yesterday, I decided to deliberately do nothing. Oh, to the wise and wonderful monks that meditate for days on end and can give their life over to deep and meaningful thought whilst they do nothing, I salute you.

The idleness began on Thursday, it’s been a terrible week, with my family having all gone home now, the house needed cleaning. How much mess can four grown children create? Now as you know I have one daughter, and Mark has two boys. In the space of a month we have had all three turn up. First Jack, “surprise”, he’s good at that, “I’m bringing the new girlfriend”. Then John and then Mandy at the same time as John, never a good move. They like to think they are chalk and cheese, but have you ever watched two people that rub each other up the wrong way and beg you to agree how bad the other one is, when they are so similar it’s a joke, well that’s my Mandy and Mark’s John.

I had put off all my regular appointments and things, until everything had settled once again. So Monday I went on the warpath, dusting, hoovering and cleaning. My home needed an overhaul. However I didn’t quite make it. I’ve found things, eye masks, shower gels that aren’t ours and a even a jacket that isn’t quite good enough to give away. Asking who they belong to takes too long and if anyone was desperate for their strawberry and vanilla cream shower gel with gogo berries then I think they would have let me know by now.

Being a woman of a certain age, there are hospital things that need to be attended to. So Tuesday was squashed boob time. Those with little boobs struggle with the mammogram. Those of us of ample size struggle even more, because we get proper squidged.

There I was Tuesday afternoon in the pouring rain chasing around the hospital grounds looking for a porter cabin that said “NHS breast screening” discreetly in six foot lettering on the side. Cramped into a changing room that the cat would have felt safe in I stripped to my waste and got manhandled all in the name of safety. Like that didn’t leave me feeling rough and reaching for the cream cakes.

Wednesday morning I was at the Doctor’s. Medication review. Yet again it didn’t quite go to plan. Bryn the old dog, decided that once around the field wasn’t going to do it so I had to take him a second time so that his bowels were exercised. He has now made an acquaintance with a new patch of grass which means he has an arrangement to water said area. I’m sure he is hiring himself out on the QT as a hose pipe. That made me run a tad late and so I turned up at the surgery looking like farmer Giles. Purple wellie boots, black and purple striped socked, hand knitted jumper in yuk colour and a purple rain coat. Fashion has nothing on dog walking clothes.

Home and more housework.

Thursday I was beat, I mean physically bushed. Everything I tried to do seemed to take three times as long and I struggled. Then Friday, back to the hospital. This time for a gynaecology overhaul. Ramps, clamps and cramps, that put me on the sofa for the rest of the day. I’m not built for feet together knees down operations anymore.

I didn’t finish the housework, I’m still looking at a kitchen that needs doing, but I can live with it for now. It’s cleanish and usable. My Wok has been destroyed by one of the kids, not sure which one, there was a lot of cooking going on last month, I have a baking tray that would stick to a wall should I throw it and a strange dark stain that has decorated the inside of a cupboard, I’ve tried to remove it but it is being stubborn, it has to be from something Mandy had. As for my fridge, I don’t know what ShiWo Banne is but it looked rather suspect and I’m sorry but nothing could tempt me to open it and empty the contents to clean out the jar for recycling.

Getting out of bed yesterday, my head was full of must do’s, have to’s and going to’s.Sod it, after breakfast I had an epiphany. “What would it be like to be idle for a day?”
I have heard that there are people that teach idleness, and there are a few books on the subject.
Cue Amazon search. Yep, more than a few.
Its not as easy as it might seem. I tried, all day yesterday, I tried.
I stayed in bed as long as I could, that was after clearing around and feeding the dogs. It almost killed me. I did romanticise that if I wasn’t around to do things,the housework fairy would appear and start doing them for me, that coffee would appear before my very eyes as I opened them. It works for Mark. Unfortunately it seems that the housework fairy only comes out to play for men, us women have to do it ourselves.

Finally out of bed I got to work on doing things that I put off because I don’t have time. Clay face mask, dyeing my hair rose gold, exfoliating body butter, a shave, bloody shaver, can’t remember the last time I used it, but I’m sure it didn’t sound like that. Mark thought I was having fun and had a vibrator to hand. “Ouch that would be a painful mix up.”

My idleness led me into the office. The room was dark and frosty. I haven’t done anything all week and it has doubled as a spare bedroom whilst we have had guests. Candles lit to give it a waft of mandarins, the key board blown clean, I began my idle typing. It was fun, nothing serious, I played with some poetry and then moving the keyboard to one side I began to draw my daily challenge.

Interlude: It’s October, every year in October I challenge myself to draw a picture a day. Today was my favourite book. Which has to be ‘To Kill A Mockingbird”, I love the book. The description of the scenery, the innocence of the children, the lesson of what once made a mockery of America’s equal rights. I digress.

The biggest problem with being idle is doing nothing, and so I decided to be idle somewhere else, where I couldn’t get distracted into being busy.
Coffee shop and shopping.

Slow meaningful, mindfulness. It took me nearly an hour to walk around a supermarket and it was the best thing I’d done all week. Absolutely no reason for being there, nothing to mither about, nothing to get, nothing to do. A bone idle meander. Which resulted in, one set of plastic spoons, lots of dark chocolate, plastic shot glasses and a red woolly dress.

Once home I resisted the urge, nay, the compelling need to get started on making the chocolate drinks on a spoon for pressies. I resisted the urge to dive into the kitchen and bake a cake, make lasagna, bake bread and get started on Christmas puddings. I sat and had a cup of tea. I did. It was lush. I can’t remember the last time I did that. Usually I walk through the door and go into turbo mode before I sit and drink the cold tea that Mark makes me when I get in.
By the way, it seems that the housework fairy had abandoned Mark in his time of need and left him to tackle two days washing up. No seriously the prodding and poking and squishing and squashing left me that incapacitated.

NB: Have you ever noticed that it takes a man three times as long to do a household task as it does a woman?

Idleness was then put on hold, a clean kitchen to me is like a freshly filled sand pit to a five year old. I just have to dive in and add water, and things and make pies. In this case it was lasagna.

The idleness resumed. I didn’t do anything of importance all day, I looked after myself and did those things that I wanted to do.

Did I waste my time, did I squander a day, was it worth the pure fear I felt of not having a timetable to run my life and not going by the clock?

Yes.

Would I do it again?

It’s 11:30am, I’m still in bed. Think idleness is underrated, it comes highly recommend by me.

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