I was fooling around in the yard the other day. It was hot, so I popped a cold one and sat on my front step, that part shaded by a big holly bush.
My neighbor saw me, walked across the street sort of slow like, and asked me what I was doing.
I told I wasn’t doing anything.
He reminded me I was sitting down, but I told him that in itself, that was nothing.
Then he looked around the yard and said it was obvious I’d been doing something.
I told him that might be true, but that he’d asked me what I was doing right then, and I gave him an honest answer.
Not only that, I told him that by doing nothing I was accomplishing more than if I were doing something.
As I expected, he disagreed by reminding me I’d done a lot of things, some of them really important.
I told him that if that were true, what I’d done would’ve been written up in the newspapers and I challenged him to find even one clipping attesting to that fact.
With that, he got uneasy, told me I shouldn’t put myself down like that.
I told him he was entitled to his opinion, but that I couldn’t see any consequences if I wanted to put myself down. After all, it was a personal matter.
I went on to explain that with age now in my favor, I didn’t hesitate to preach, even if that meant preaching to my neighbor.
I told him he needed to think how special it was for him to be talking to me, someone who was doing nothing despite being surrounded by everyone else doing something.
He smiled, and since he didn’t show any signs of being uncomfortable, I figured he was okay with that, at least so far. Anyway, whether a person is in the state of crazy is mostly a matter of judgement.
So I told him that the trouble with most people is that they don’t have a clue as to how to do nothing. That ever since they were old enough to understand, everybody had kept pushing all the time for everybody to do something. I mean, how many times have you heard somebody say: Just don’t stand there, do something.
Those kind even believe in having a to-do list while they’re on vacation.
He didn’t argue with that, either. In fact, he said yes by nodding his head.
I continued by saying that all through life, whether at home or on the job, everybody thinks we all have to be doing something, even if it’s nothing more than thinking about doing something.
He admitted that was true, but it was so hard to not do anything.
I told him that a friend once told me it makes no difference how much you get done by the time you die, if you want to know what difference that’s going to make, just stick your finger in a bucket of water, then pull it out real quick and look at the hole you leave. Ha ha, there won’t be one. See what I mean?
He just stood there looking at me, almost staring while I was leaning back, still holding an almost finished cold one, my cap pulled down close to my eyes to block out the sun, my right leg stuck straight out so relaxed that my foot just flopped over like it had become disconnected.
Then he said in kind of a soft almost strange sounding voice that he figured it was time for him to venture back across the street.
I told him he didn’t have to rush off, that I enjoyed his company, and that it was perfectly logical for me to take a break from doing nothing to talk with him.
I guess he took that as a compliment. I mean, that’s how I wanted him to think of it
anyway. You know, evidence that I thought of him as being a good guy for just listening.
Then he looked at me sort of strange like and asked me to guess what he was going to do after he walked back to his house.
I told him I didn’t have a clue.
He threw back his shoulders and with a voice I knew was sincere, told me that as he was walking over to see me he never dreamed he was about to be persuaded to do nothing.
Well, let me tell you, I couldn’t have been happier when I heard him say that. After all, while doing nothing, I’d been doing something. Still, with only two of us on this same street now thinking the same way, I don’t think there’s any need for me to worry about keeping it exclusive.
That’s a real shame, too, because all the way to their grave, they’ll stay stubborn, keep saying everybody’s got to be doing something all the time, that there’s nothing to be gained by doing nothing.
Worst of all, my neighbor and I will be standing there watching them being buried. Poor souls, we’re sure gonna miss ‘em.