Today’s ‘Tract starts with a short exercise. Do be a good sport and complete all the steps, if you would. I’ll wait.
First, consider these lilies:
Next, watch this video. Feel free to sing along:
Then check out this artwork:
And last, please watch this elephant enjoy her birthday. BTW, Tricia is a fantastic name for an elephant. Or a buffalo. But this video is about an elephant.
Now, if you’ve played along at home, you’ve just spent about five minutes doing absolutely nothing of measurable value. There wasn’t a secret metaphor I was building in there; there wasn’t any big message I was hoping you’d pick up. If you found a cosmic sign in there, that’s all you; I just picked some things I liked, and put them on the page, and now you’ve spent five minutes doing nothing whatsoever. And–
hang on a sec, lemme check something–
/peeks out window
…nope, the world didn’t end.
Here’s the thing: the holiday season is upon us. In theory, we’re all going about our days filled with love and joy and concern for our fellow man. According to all the songs, we’re drinking warm beverages and thinking idly about nice things we can do for each other, while enjoying fireplaces and sweaters and suprisingly glittery cards. We’ve just come off Thanksgiving, when we theoretically all gathered around big tables full of food, and ate together and gave thanks for our blessings, and then spent quality time with our loved ones; and now we’re heading toward Christmas (or whatever wintertime holiday your family celebrates) with bellies full of last week’s turkey and hearts full of beautiful and unique snowflake spirits.
At least, that’s what the songs all say.
But then there’s this:
And a quick Google search turns up roughly eleventy zillion articles about how to reduce your stress during the holidays, most of which come down to “breathe, accept that perfection is an unrealistic goal, and try to remember that what matters most is enjoying your time with your loved ones”.
Y’know what I think? I think the issue is bigger than Martha Stewart’s unreasonable template for what a “good thing” looks like. I think the issue is bigger than rampant commercialism. I think the issue is bigger than the holiday in question.
I think the issue is that somewhere along the way, we decided as a society that Being Busy for Its Own Sake was somehow a great thing to do. I get it that there are some things that are difficult to avoid–kids, for instance, come with a great deal of verbs, and even if your youngster isn’t involved in any activities, there are always dentist appointments, doctor appointments, school plays, and messes to tackle. But there seems to be this bizarre idea floating around out there that if your calendar isn’t jam-packed at all times, then you are a failure as a person; and if you’re not perpetually zipping from place to place for work, social events, errands, and god-knows-what-else, then you’re just not doing it right.
Don’t believe me? Think about it this way: you can go to a drive-thru window nowadays and get french fries in a container that fits in your cupholder so you can eat ’em on the go. I’m just sayin’.
So here’s the takeaway for today: We proved at the beginning of this post that stopping and doing nothing meaningful for five minutes does not, in fact, cause the world to end. You have the right to not verb the heck outta your day. You are allowed to declare that tomorrow, or the day after that, or some random date in the future (I know, going cold-turkey can be hard. Feel free to schedule your Schedule-Free Day, if you need to) will be a day when you do absolutely nothing significant. You can spend the day in your pajamas. You can watch brainless television or movies, or read a book, or just sit at look out the window. Our older cat, for instance, has spent this entire morning chasing a sunbeam around the house and napping in it, and he has seemed quite happy with himself. You too are allowed to take naps. Epic naps. Naps that involve all the pillows, all the blankets, and an eye mask at 2:00 in the afternoon.
It is ok to opt out of being aggressively busy, is all I’m saying. Even if it’s only for a little while. Because whether you like to admit it or not, you’re just a person. Just an average, everyday person. If you were critical to the functioning of this planet, you would have an armed security detail around you at all times. So since you’re not, in fact, mission-critical to all things on the face of god’s green earth, you can take a day off.
Trust me: it’s good for the soul.