Monday, October 29, 2012

Relaxation business

Is there any merit to the argument that resting is, in itself, an active choice and experience? When I sit here and I think up words that I then type that I then post to a webpage, I wonder whether if even the act of creating something like this actually constitutes effort.

I spend so much time just sitting around and doing very little. Yet in the last 20 years, I feel I've become a well-rounded, knowledgeable, interesting person. How do I reconcile these things? On one side is the couch potato who has no idea what the sun looks like when it's not beating down on her windowsill.  On the other side is the adventurer who is always looking for new information to absorb.

The word "adventurer" is applied very liberally.

Yes, I am on the cusp of going on my grand European adventure. I will be trekking through various countries with first languages other than English. I will have to find places, purchase items, experience new things without the comfort of my bedroom and a television. Instead, I will be right in the middle of things.

But then I wonder to myself whether the act of moving and getting away from something is really so much more exciting than staying and experiencing it from home. Novelty, of course, can be a huge draw. But after being gone from London for a weekend, I remember how great simplicity and familiarity are to the mind and soul.

You know how people always say there's no such thing as nothing? Even nothing is a something, therefore nothing doesn't even exist. Once you've categorized nothing, you no longer have nothing.

Anyway, without going into all the weird philosophical constraints surrounding an argument like that, it's sort of how I feel about my penchant for passivity.

I'm the type of person who does nothing, but by the very virtue of saying I'm "doing nothing," I am doing something. I'm explaining, I've become a storyteller, if only for a moment.

But a whole weekend away does actually remind me quite clearly of the value of relaxation. When I write this blog, I try to become showered in thoughts. But sometimes, and now being a pretty stellar example, I am a juvenile observer. Because I'm only half aware of what is going on around me. I am an observer, but I'm not a participant.

There was a time when I might've said there is nothing wrong with being an observer and only an observer. I almost prefer to be a passive spectator, enjoying and learning about what is happening in the world without risking the comfort of familiarity.

Today was all about resting. Letting go of life for a few hours, I sat on a train from Edinburgh back to London and listened to my iPod. I fell into drowsy stupors, took naps on occasion, flopped over and nearly hit my neighbors' laps and pounds of travel bags (heavy packers not unlike myself, unfortunately).

It felt kind of like a waste to use my opportunity to be productive and proactive about my schoolwork just to sit back and contemplate on no particular thing. When we did arrive back at the station, I had accomplished literally nothing. But what made me happy is that even though I'd spent over four and a half hours on a train listening to my iPod on shuffle, I felt I had done something.

The truth is that accomplishment is such a nebulous phrase.

When I write my blog each night, I feel accomplished. Heck, when I go to sleep - and goodness me, I should be going to sleep right now - I feel accomplished.

From henceforth, I choose to believe it is all right to do nothing.

The truth is that there really are too many ways to distract myself from what absolutely must be accomplished, and if you worry yourself over going off course you may never find your way back out of eternal passivity.

As for tonight, I plan to spend the rest of mine relaxing as if there are no obligations left in the world. Even though there are, there's something about the act of nothing that makes everything slightly less daunting.

So I'm ready to take things on, to feel adventure in my schoolwork and my holiday in the coming week. I may still be a casual observer and not as immersive of an explorer as I should be. But I have good intentions, and I will use, which hopefully means stepping out of my comfort zone at some point.

For now, though, I will sign off with a heartily enthusiastic mention of my anticipation for Europe in a week. I certainly won't be spending time resting there. Or at least I hope I won't be.

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