Monday, July 09, 2007

il bel far niente (or the beauty of doing nothing)

Something about vacation really agreed with me. Walking to work today (ugh), I realized this is something I should do annually: take an entire week off of work and not go anywhere or do anything. It's rare that I just get to enjoy everything around me: the sunshine, my quiet apartment, sleeping in (which is 8:30 to me), the beach. Living stress-free. No deadlines. No meetings. No annoying phone calls.

While on my vacation I started a new book, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I've been reading it slowly, just finishing the first third (the Eat part) last night. I think slowly is the way to read this book, to really just listen and enjoy. Gilbert writes a lot about pleasure in this book and, since I was on vacation, this rang so true to me. We so rarely stop to take pleasure in things around us, even if we are relaxing. Most of the time, I use my downtime to chill on the couch watching Making the Band 4 (yes, I love it) or read a book or stalk people on social networking sites. But Gilbert talks about pleasure in doing nothing and just being. And eating too. There is quite a bit of pleasure to be taken from eating. For example, on my vacation I ate Japanese, Italian, Chinese, Indian, American, Cajun, African, Southern, and Mexican (so it helps that Taste of Chicago was happening but still....I like food). I enjoyed my eating, for the most part, taking pleasure in it all. Usually, it's a quick sandwich at my desk while I check my email (not pleasurable).

I went to the gym because I wanted to (and because of all that eating pleasure). I walked a lot in the city because I wanted to. I went to the beach four times and just laid there doing nothing. I went to the MCA. I watched movies at home. I saw The Police at Wrigley Field. I shopped. I spent time with some of my favorite people. I spent time alone. I danced. I acted a bit foolish. I walked slowly to take in the summer. I walked quickly to avoid the tourists.

Which is why I didn't want to go back to work today. No matter how much I like my job, nothing compares to that feeling of having nothing to do. Of having an entire day to do with it what you please and to not feel obligated to do any one thing. Work, while enjoyable, is still an obligation. Which is why I'm going to maximize my time away from now on. Maximize my pleasure.

1 comment:

Ripe for Reading said...

Sounds delightful. We go on vacation soon--to Maine--in hopes that swimming, camping, bed and breakfasting, eating, reading--will bring back the feelings of summer as a kid without a care in the world.

I'm jealous, though--I love The Police!