Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[personal] The fine art of doing nothing

I'm really, really bad at doing nothing.

Most of my vacations are working vacations in some important sense. Well, okay, pretty much all of them. Days off at home turn into writing days or projects or things needing to be done with [info]the_child. Days off on the road turn into writing days or writing days or writing days. I always have to be somewhere, do something. If I'm not engaged at that level, I feel an emotion somewhere between guilt and worry.

Saturday at the Locus Awards, during the lengthy break between the banquet and the Clarion West party, I shot pool with John Pitts, Ty Franck and Peter Orullian. We played slop eight ball, the way kids play pool. Mostly John and I lost. I muffed a lot of shots. We were in the bar almost three hours, just knocking around the balls and yakking about whatever. Writing was a big thread, obviously, but plenty of other things as well. Music. Kids. Other people. No agenda, just four people spending time together over nachos and pool.

In the middle of all this, I realized I simply never do anything like that. I don't ever go just hang out with friends and screw around. I'm so freaking goal oriented that if I'm going somewhere with friends, it's to hike, or take photos at a certain site, or a destination-oriented trip.

Likewise, yesterday I was visiting a friend up north of Seattle. We went to the coast, Deception Pass in the San Juans. We walked around and looked a tide pools. We stared at the ocean. We checked out a cool bridge. We had a mediocre lunch at an oddball restaurant in Anacortes. All in all, we had a great time, basically doing nothing but passing the day in an interesting place. (And, yes, I took a few photos, because that's what I do.)

I'm working on doing more of less. Not slowing down, not that. I think I'm like a shark. Swim or die. But finding more (and better) opportunities during my speed run through life to not be speeding or running either one. Maybe even be still and at peace some of the time. (Another lesson I'm working on learning.)

Damn, it's hard.

Tags: child, friends, personal, washington, writing

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