There are times during the week when I come home, swamped with deadlines and personal projects, and flop onto our massive futon, thinking, “Dear God, I just wish I had time to do absolutely nothing.”
Strangely, though, I am a person to whom the concept of “doing nothing” is sometimes lost. Doing nothing is different for everyone, I suppose. My “nothing” always involves something, but some people really can just sit there and be perfectly comfortable doing that. Occasionally I envy them but I am often too caught up in my own nothing to think about it. I find myself utterly incapable of just sitting there, though I often wish I could—and I find this especially prevalent living in New York. There is just something to do all the time. Anywhere. If you want it you can find it. Sometimes I find that I start to “itch” if I’m not doing anything. I’m worried that if I am not going out and finding “it” then I am not taking true advantage of living here.
But this is simply not the case. Months ago, MS warned me of this very phenomenon. Because there’s so much to do, so many distractions, we have to focus our attention on the things that really matter. Is it so vital that I go to the Union Square Farmer’s Market right now? No, I can go next weekend. Do I have to go to the Guggenheim tomorrow? No, it will be open many other days during the year. Part of living in New York and learning to be a New Yorker is that you have to learn to live here as if it weren’t the city that never sleeps. Sometimes you have to wake up with nothing on the schedule and then go forth with doing that nothing because that’s what normal New Yorkers do. They are not tourists who have to see something every second of the limited time they’re here. Grand Central Station will be here next week, next month, next year and the next ten years—I can go in any of those time segments I choose. There’s no rush.
Instead, occasionally you have to sit in your pajamas all day and read the fashion magazines that have been piling up on your desk and drink your tea and maybe you’ll eventually decide to rustle your bones and jaunt down to the grocery store so you don’t wind up eating stale Cheerios for dinner during the week. That’s it—that will be your day. And it’s okay because that’s the “nothing” you’ve been wanting to do for a while (if you’re me, anyway).
The nothings, no matter what they may entail, are necessary in New York. If you do something all the time you’ll really just burn yourself out. And what kind of a way is that to enjoy living in such a bustling, lively place? It’s better to have the energy to do the things you love than have no energy because you were doing a bunch of things that didn’t matter to you. The “nothing” moments are far more important than we think they are, but unfortunately we only appreciate them when they’re unavailable. So it’s important to have a lazy Saturday, and maybe even a lazy Sunday if you’re feeling ambitious. Because without your own silence, you can’t appreciate the city’s music.