Monday, 13 October 2008

Nothing or Something?

This weekend Gord and went 'out' and did three different things in one night: we went to a movie at the cheap theatre (and saw Wall-E), we went for snacks afterward at a nearby restaurant and then went to see a live comedy show (Gord had been given free tickets). This kind of "going out" is a rarity for us - we talk about going out for dinner and a movie but we never seem to actually go. I'd say we do get out for a movie about once a year, maybe.

We had a great time doing all these things this weekend - the movie was adorable and the comedy hilarious! The snacks were just passable, making me appreciate home-cooked things even more than I already do. The evening's events got me thinking, though:

How often when someone asks what you've been doing do you say, "oh, nothing much." It occurred to me that if someone asked me what I did this weekend I would have three whole things to talk about for a change, instead of saying, "oh, nothing."

But I always feel vaguely uneasy saying I did "nothing much," because my weekends are usually full of all sorts of stuff, like cooking or baking, gardening, reading books, having tea, sitting on the porch, blogging, doing laundry, doing yardwork, cleaning the guinea pigs' cage, playing with the guinea pigs, making supper, doing dishes, visiting family, reading blogs, thinking about stuff and talking to Gord about it, etc. Is this nothing? Or is it something? And if it is indeed 'something,' then why don't I talk about it like I would talk about having gone to dinner and a movie?

I've just finished reading Sharon Astyk's book, Depletion and Abundance. In it, she talks about the "home front" and how really important things happen at home. For example, the growing and preparing of food, the working together as a couple or a family, the learning of self-sufficient tasks and teaching these to others, the taking care of each other in everyday, simple ways. This stuff might not make headlines, but it sure doesn't sound like 'nothing.'

Chapter 4 of the Tao Te Ching also has something to say about the paradoxical fullness of nothing:
The Tao is empty
When utilized, it is not filled up
So deep! It seems to be the source of all things

It blunts the sharpness
Unravels the knots
Dims the glare
Mixes the dusts

So indistinct! It seems to exist
I do not know whose offspring it is
Its image is the predecessor of the Emperor

I don't pretend to know exactly what this chapter all means, but I do know that the kind of things that could be considered doing nothing, are the exact things I need to keep me going and to feel contentment and gratitude. Indeed, my weekends of 'nothing' can certainly become "the source of all things" that keeps me going throughout the week.

So the next time someone asks me what I've been up to, maybe I'll say with an enigmatic smile, "nothing, and everything."


Simply Authentic said...

but why not just tell them what you've really been up to? because it definitely IS "something." and you're right in that the something is everything to you. and it should probably be more of everything to all of us. maybe telling them about the ins and outs that do satisfy will in fact get them to think about the satisfaction that can arise from what they think is "nothing." just some thoughts....:-) hope you've been well theresa!

Theresa said...

SA - I am doing that more and more, for sure: just saying that I was cooking or planting trees or making kimchi or whatever. It just struck me this weekend that there seem to be certain types of things that people will consider 'worthy' to admit to doing over the weekend, and other things that just don't make the cut, and are relegated to the "oh, nothing" category. I'm glad this seems to be changing for me :)

Anonymous said...

This afternoon I'm seeing my first movie in a theater since... 2004? Yes, I can now participate in the movie discussions :)

I, too, need to learn to feel good about what are often considered mundane activities. Food for thought.

SoapBoxTech said...

In my ever so humble opinion, I think the "oh nothings" you do are probably far more significant than all the tales that some have to tell. But as you suggested, its not so much what it IS to anyone else, but the fact that most of what you do is FOR us all.

For myself, I usually feel free to answer "what I've been up to" rather openly. It's become amusing to see how long it takes for the inquirer's eyes to glaze over.

Talk it up, Theresa. Tell your friends what you do, talk about the Green Party and other such important interests, share your energy. When their eyes glaze over, you know its just time to get back to doing something.

Peace to us all.

Gord H. said...

less is more, theresa. sounds like you live a full life by going slow and enjoying the view.

live small and prosper, i say.

and keep adding saskatoons to your oatmeal.


gord h.

Theresa said...

Artby - it does take some practice to just stop and appreciate that I am able to do whatever the thing is I'm doing at the moment - like having warm water to wash my dishes in while looking out the window at the woodpile. More and more, these small things make me smile and be grateful for what I have :)

Soapbox -thanks, I do try and 'talk it up' without becoming an 'eco-nag.' It becomes an exercise in balance, learning when to say something and when it is best to let the circumstances speak for themselves. Peace to us all, definitely. :)

Gord - more and more I enjoy less and less :) I actually find the overstimulation of TV, malls, highways a bit too much, and quite unpleasant, actually. The oatmeal with saskatoons on the otherhand, is juuuuust right :)