I have accomplished a whole lot of nothing over the last week.
My To-Do list (that wretched thing) has just as many items on it as it did two weeks ago. It’s not for lack of effort or lack of finishing the tasks set forth there…it’s that as each item is crossed off, another (or two or three) jumps on and joins the party.
And so because we live in a world where we have been trained to Focus on our To-Do lists, my To-Do list is still telling me what I have not yet accomplished in this last week. Last night I found myself starting to believe that I have, in fact, accomplished nothing.
But that could not be farther from the truth. I have accomplished many things in the last several days. And so I made a choice to Focus on the successes, not the so-called failures – the nothing that I accomplished. I could throw out a string of verbs here to submit palpable evidence that I have indeed been busy To-Doing and accomplishing, but I won’t.
Because that, you see, will avert my Focus. And right now, I want to Focus on that nothing. Society tells us that busy-ness is attractive. We are supposed to be busy doing something at all times, no matter what the cost – relationships, health, principles, sanity – and that if we are not doing something, we are nothing. And so we go and go and go and do and do and do until we can’t possibly go or do for one more second.
And then we have to stop and do nothing.
I ask you here to consider intentionally choosing to do nothing. Not as a by-product of over-doing, but as an intentional first-string choice. Think of any creation story or myth you like – the Book of Genesis, Native American Myth, whatever – and you will find many stories of how the universe and the world came to be begin with…nothing.
Nothing begets everything. The universe springs from an empty void…and the greatest ideas, dreams, thoughts, and choices to becomes the next better version of the Self come from allowing ourselves to clear the mind and Focus on nothing.
This is a concept that has fascinated me for years – decades, in fact. You see, I have adult ADHD and in my brain, there is rarely room for nothing and it is never quiet. Never. When I was in middle school, perhaps, I asked someone how they were able to fall asleep so easily and she replied, “Simple. Just close your eyes and think about nothing.”
Fascinating. But I couldn’t do it. And more than that, I decided I didn’t want to do it. It was strange and uncomfortable to think about nothing, to listen to silence. Focus on nothing? What a waste of time! I still find it difficult to Focus on nothing with great regularity. But I have continued to seek that nothing – that quiet – in my brain, and it often eludes. It must be sought with purpose, but even so it still prefers to flit away just ever so out of reach… I have caught glimpses of it, though, and the more I experience that nothing, that quiet, the more easily I find I am able to access it.
And when it comes, it is both refreshing and overwhelming at the same time. But I have learned to find comfort there and to accept it as something productive, not merely a lack of anything else.
Nothing begets everything. As I begin my One Word journey this year, I hope to develop more Focus. Before I Focus on any one thing, I start here with the choice to Focus on the fullness and promise of simply choosing to Focus on nothing.