Three times in my life I have experienced a world of fewer distractions, like we are experiencing in our Covid-19 quarantine (see part 1 of this Blog), first, as a child in the before-TV times, when time out of school and after chores was a wealth of easy flowing leisure. I had great adventures in my mind, or just wandering daydreams of clouds or princesses. I read and played with friends. Walked in the great wood (an empty lot) that I thought was a great wood across from my house in the city, turning over logs and hoping NOT to find bugs but looking anyway. I hated to clean my room, but did it so that I could get on with whatever was on my agenda. Bouncing the ball up against the wall, jumping rope or roller-skating on our street with my friends. I fussed with my books, lining them up by color sometimes, or alphabetically as I matured, or by height, just because. The point is, I had time to be quiet and wonder and wander whimsically. (see Blog Post Doing Something, Nothing To Do, Doing Nothing.
The productivity that can come from a limited horizon and narrowed options for distraction in after work hours, was revealed again in 1988 when my husband and I turned off our TV and kept it off for over 25 years. The silence was enormous and like, giving up caffeine, not without longing and temptation. But then, a kind of quiet descended like on a day blanketed by snow. There was suddenly so much time available after work. A surge of intention and industry took the place of the noise and laugh tracks of previous evenings. I began envisioning a school that I had long-before decided to start – ever since I was just eight-years-old. I now imagined it; committed fledgling ideas to paper that gained substance, growing into a statement of philosophy that drove the design and implementation of action plans. Out of that quieter time that television had previously filled came Sparhawk. BTW: I was working full time as Vice President of the parent corporation of North Shore Children’s Hospital, and I had a toddler; nonetheless, one decided step after another, Sparhawk was brought to life, inexorably, in the quiet made available by a choice. A quiescent mind provides fertile ground for what the reflective, questing mind can cultivate.
And, now, there is an opportunity to experience it again in after-work hours during the Coronavirus pandemic. I. know that some people are suffering, at least for the moment, because they have extra time on their hands and mind. Some people with young children or others to care for are busier than ever, but still, if we hush the world in the evenings, you will be surprised at what you discover about yourself and your goals. Trust the experience. We have been living in a very busy world. The volume has been tuned-down so rapidly that it is unnerving, but I think children and adults will adjust and find benefits if they wait just a bit. Walk away from some of the noise bit by bit. You will not likely have this reset opportunity again.
As adults in the old world, we did lots of Something; we typically did not have much time for Nothing To Do, and even if we did, we tended to fill it. And, in the world before Covid-19, we most certainly did not end up with a healthy-enough dose of Doing Nothing. I’m thinking that our time in social distancing has given us back some of the stay-in-place reflection we need. The children don’t need to be entertained every moment. We all need time to putter about until some dreamy moment inspires us. As Winnie The Pooh has said, “Doing nothing often leads to the very best of something.