Play and Do Nothing

Recently I read the book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte.

Anyone who feels time-starved or overcommitted can immediately relate to Brigid’s story. Two kids, busy job, somewhat helpful spouse, and the constant running and striving and doing and never stopping and yet the list never gets done.

I was shocked by how much the book and Brigid’s experience of overwhelm resonated with me. It gave me the chance to say, “shoot, that’s totally me, too.” Through the author, I could step outside of myself and see the impact of living my own overwhelmed life.

We discussed the book in my book club and seemed to gravitate towards two ideas: where we can create play in our lives, and where we can create pauses to do nothing.

“Do nothing?” I cried. “What does that even mean?!” I was equally out to sea when it came to our discussion about where I had play planned into my life. Um. Nowhere.

But I was left with this thought: How can I not know how to play and do nothing? What the heck? I used to know. Where did that person go?

I chewed on these questions for days.

I think most of us could benefit from a slower pace of life. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want just a little more spaciousness, a few less things to get done. Especially during the holidays. This feels like a good time of the year to turn the dial down a few notches.

So, without adding more to my ‘to-do list,’ I’ve started to look for opportunities to add more play, space and stillness to my life. And I started with date night.

Two weeks ago, Marc and I left the kids with our sitter on Saturday night like we normally do, but instead of eating out or going to a movie, we just walked. We walked for nearly two hours. There was no agenda, no set route, no time limit. There was no reservation to get to or traffic to sit through. There was just one foot in front of the other, walking through our neighborhood, lost in conversation, obvious to the miles. It was bliss.

The following day, I took stock of play and made a list of all the things I love to do that are only for my pure enjoyment. Art, as it turns out, is one of these things. So, I recruited my 7-year-old to join me at a pottery studio where we spent an hour painting. Quietly, peacefully, we focused our attention on our brushes and brought the bland taupe ceramic to life with color.

This past weekend: another walk, another art project, and a few moments each day to just sit in silence — the slow work of creating a new habit.

“You can’t manage time. Time never changes,” Brigid relays in her books. “There will always be 168 hours in a week. What you can manage are the activities you choose to do in your time.”

I’ve heard it said that no one on their deathbed ever wishes they had worked more. I imagine many wish they would have slowed down more, played more, connected more, done less.

Do less. Play more. It belongs on a bumper sticker or tattooed on my arm.

We share a lot of ideas here on Asheville Date Night Guide for things to do on date night. But here’s one I personally hope you take on: play and do nothing! See if that feels good. If it does, plan for more of it.

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I’d love to hear from you. How will you add more play and space in your life? Leave a comment and share your experience.

Feature Image: Asheville photographers Tessa and Chris of www.folkandwayfarer.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kristen Manieri is the Founder and Editor of Date Night Guide, as well as a prolific freelance writer. She regularly appears on FOX35 Orlando and has been featured in Good Housekeeping Magazine and on Babble.com. Kristen lives in Orlando with her husband, Marc, and her two daughters. Listen to her on The Synced Life, a podcast dedicated to conversations on human connection.


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