Depending on what your cultural background is, this may not come as a shocker. However, I grew up in a society where Seinfeld’s David Puddy was a comical guy because he tended to stare off into oblivion like a lunatic. That was the joke, that’s it, that he just stared at nothing.
It also helped that Patrick Warburton did the joke particularly well.
Years ago, during one of the rather darkest moments of my life, I often found the urge to sit in a chair and accomplish nothing. This is real dark shit, where you don’t want to / can’t work, read, eat, sleep, nothing. You just want to sit there staring at a wall for twenty minutes. It’s all you’ve got.
At the time, I confided to a wise person that this behavior bothered me immensely. That there was something wrong with this ala David Puddy. To which the person said in response, “It’s perfectly okay to stare at the wall and do nothing.”
Boy was she right. Even now when life isn’t as, relatively, dark I still allow myself to do this on a regular basis. When made a regular part of your daily life, it helps to cleanse your brain.
And when you think about your caveman self, this makes perfect sense. Once upon a time some hunter dude would just blankly stare at trees for eight hours while he awaited the forthcoming sabertooth tiger kill.
When I traveled to Sicily I heard them refer to this concept as, “The Blessed Nothing”. I’ve never forgotten that phrase.
And yet in our high-impact-super-modern-culture we never bother to employ this cleansing. We can’t even sit down for eight seconds without having to do: something, anything.
When I was on the road this last weekend and on long layover at the airport bar I happened to notice that of the twenty or so folks sitting at the bar, every single one was holding a smartphone. I was the only one just sitting there slowly sipping my beer and staring at the wall. It’s relaxing. But taken at face value, somebody would be like, “Who’s the weirdo just sitting there without his phone?”
Even worse was the couple at the small table behind me who instead of, you know, talking to each other were just sitting there in silence tacking away at the smartphones. I haven’t been in a decent relationship in a long, long time. But I’m pretty sure that if all you’ve got to talk about as a couple is a smartphone, that there’s a problem at hand.
So friends, the next time you’re at the bar, or seated alone in the terminal awaiting your flight, or waiting for your friends on a park bench? Just sit there and do nothing. Stare into oblivion. And see what delicious places your mind can take you. Once you get used to doing this on a regular basis, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Your brain will thank you.