…and after they had walked a little way Christopher Robin said:

“What do you like doing best in the world, Pooh?”

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best–” and then he had to stop and think. [For the purposes of this post, you can skip straight to the next paragraph, but you’d probably rather read what Pooh thinks…] Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called. And then he thought that being with Christopher Robin was a very good thing to do, and having Piglet near was a very friendly thing to have; and so, when he had thought it all out, he said, “What I like best in the whole world is Me and Piglet going to see You, and You saying ‘What about a little something?’ and Me saying, ‘Well, I shouldn’t mind a little something, should you, Piglet,’ and it being a hummy sort of day outside, and birds singing.”

“I like that too,” said Christopher Robin, “but what I like doing best is Nothing.”

“How do you do Nothing?” asked Pooh, after he had wondered for a long time.

“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it ‘What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?’ and you say ‘Oh, nothing,’ and then you go and do it.”

“Oh, I see,” said Pooh.

I don’t actually agree with Christopher Robin, I don’t think that Nothing is what I like doing best.  But, it’s a very important thing to do sometimes, I think.

I always struggle to put my finger on this, and I’m not sure this is the right approach, but maybe.  I get a longing at times when I feel busy.  But I’m not that busy.  My work schedule is calm, especially recently.  I do plenty of fun things, I’m sure I have way more fun than the average person.  Pri and I took a week+ camping vacation early this month that did have the wonderful “mind flush” sensation that vacations can bring.  I even watch TV shows sometimes (via DVD, we don’t have TV in the house).  So, it always feels wrong to say that I’m “busy”.  But that’s what I’m always tempted to say.

What’s closer to the truth, but always sounds awkward when I try to say it, is that I’m not getting enough time where I just do whatever comes to mind.  I get enough sleep.  I get a fair amount of reading done.  I dance, I tell stories with friends, I catch up with faraway loved ones with fair regularity.

But so often I have things planned.  It’s part of the Myers Briggs J personality type that I share with everyone I’m related to, I believe… while I’m working, I think “Oh, this evening I could/should do such-and-such”.  This is assuming I don’t already have something scheduled, which I often do.  As thoughts like that pile up, I start to look longingly at the weekends “I won’t be able to do such-and-such in an evening, at least not this week, so maybe this weekend.”  Of course, I often have things scheduled in the weekends too.

Anyway, this evening Pri asked if I wanted to go to a concert, the famous Menahem Pressler (who is also one of our neighbors now) leading a group in chamber music.  I’m sure I would have enjoyed it.  But I stayed home, not even knowing what I’d do.

I ended up in from of the computer, doing.. nothing.  Which took the form of some old-fashioned web surfing: “I wonder what’s online about such-and-such?  I wonder if Reason magazine did a book review of The Omnivoire’s Dilemma (which i just finished reading)?  oh, they did! back in November of 2006, and several other mentions of it since then.  oh look, this one links to a Mayo Clinic report on whether organic foods are better for you or not.”  etc.  That plus catching up on my friends’ blogs and such… but really, whatever came to mind.

I really think that’s the key… my mind is happy to be a worker, doing the thinking necessary to earn money, keep the house in decent shape, find fun things for me to do and take care of the logistics of doing them.  But without a bit of time to let my mind just run free, I start to feel a bit cramped.  I think I spent only an hour or so in this bit of nothingness I’m describing, but and the end of it I literally let out a loud sigh of comfort that I think I rarely find these days.

Then I went and emptied the dishwasher and otherwise tidied up the house for a bit.  I feel that if I’d done this earlier, my thoughts would have focused on things to do, etc.  Instead my mind continued wandering, thinking of things to do, but in a more abstract way, not trying to organize my time.  A different state of mind.  It felt good.

Eventually I started composing this very post in my mind while still cleaning.  It strikes me as one of the least “deep” and least focused things I’ve ever written here.  But, here’s a thought: “Blog” comes from “web-log” right?  Like you’re keeping a log like the Captain’s Log on Star Trek, describing everything that’s going on, but you’re saving it to the web.  That’s an interesting idea, and I think a lot of people treat it much more that way than I do.  For me, I like it best when it works as an outlet for thoughts that are stuck in my brain.  And ironically, the more things I’m doing, the less I feel that way, and the less I feel like I have to share.  In other words, the more that’s going on in my life, the less I feel like I have to write about.  Put another way, with less focus on the irony: it’s not just that being busy makes me have insufficient time to write in the blog, it’s at least as much that I like to write about things more “heady” than most of the stuff that makes me feel “busy”.

I don’t know.  It’s just a blog post about doing nothing.  Rather than wrap it all up, I think I’ll go do something else, because that’s what my mind feels like doing.