April 26, 2020

Either is fine.

There are moments in the day when I realize that I have spent several minutes staring out the window mindlessly at the birds in our backyard, or just lost in my thoughts with no real focus to my thinking. There are moments when I have been unoccupied, when I have been doing nothing, but instead relishing the mundanity and beauty of boredom.

When I notice these moments, I often chide and admonish myself for not doing all the things I have to do; with an ever-growing to-do list, I often feel like I have no moments to waste. It’s at those times I have to remind myself that I am not a machine, that these fleeting moments of non-productivity —moments where I notice the small joys and delights around me—are what make me human, make me who I am.

All that in preamble to say I was utterly delighted to discover this passage by Anne Enright in the recent edition of Laura Olin’s newsletter:

Honestly, there is a lot to be said for tooling about all day, looking up recipes and not making them, not bothering to paint the living room and failing to write a novel. In the middle of the messy, non-event called your mid-afternoon, you might get something—a thought to jot down, a good paragraph, a piece of gossip to text a pal. Boredom is a productive state so long as you don’t let it go sour on you. Try not to confuse the urge to get something done with the idea that you are useless. Try not to confuse the urge to contact someone with the thought that you are unloved. Do the thing or don’t do it. Either is fine.

A new mantra to add to my day: Do the thing or don’t do it. Either is fine.“

Update: this tweet is related to the above and also made me smile: