When was the last time you had 10 minutes with nothing to do?
Think about it.
Let’s take it one step further: When was the last time you had 10 minutes with nothing to do and you did nothing?
Umm-hmm. That’s what I thought.
I’ve been doing a lot of weekend travel for my day job recently, so my boss forced me to take Tuesday off. It’s a sad commentary on my mental status that he had to twist my arm. Seriously, I argued with him about taking the day off. He finally just told me not to come in on Tuesday and muttered something about “gift horses.”
My off day began with sleep – something I get very little of most nights because I’m an early riser. Carla believes I am perpetually sleep deprived, but how else am I going to fit everything in that I need to keep me sane: spiritual disciplines, running and working out and writing.
So when I slept until 8:30 Tuesday morning, it was the latest I had slept in months, including vacations. Rest. What a concept.
The morning was great. Carlton and I spent time together before he went to preschool, reading his favorite book “Pete the Cat,” which he basically recited to me. Then it was off to the gym before volunteering in Harris’ first grade class with Carla.
When I entered the classroom, the kids were all in groups working on math centers. Not waiting for an orientation or instructions, I dived in, helping kids with math facts, counting dimes and reading clocks. It was a whirlwind 30 minutes, but every time Harris looked my way, a big smile took over his face. We even stayed for his lunch, preferring not to partake in the cafeteria food but still enjoying Harris’ company.
Lunch was a rare treat. Carla and I enjoyed the special at Always Fresh, the place to go in Lilburn when you have a hankerin’ for some traditional Southern meat and three. We talked about plans for her birthday over baked chicken, pork loin, sweet potato casserole, field peas, mashed potatoes and gravy and cornbread muffins. We skipped dessert on account of the sweet potato casserole.
And that’s when it happened.
We were 10 minutes early to pick Carlton up from preschool. We just sat in our minivan in the parking lot. I turned off the radio. I resisted the urge to pick up my smart phone and allow my burgeoning inbox to rob me of serenity. I looked at my watch. I looked at Carla. We sat still. It was quiet.
“When was the last time we didn’t do anything?” I asked.
Carla then proceeded to give me a summary of a book or something she had read online
about white space and filling our lives up with too much activity.
She held out about another two minutes before her ever-present iPhone was back at her face. She put it down when I mocked her for only being able to be still and converse for five minutes.
The rest of the day was just as restful, but what stuck out to me was how rare those 10 minutes were. We didn’t have any relational breakthroughs or resolve any of life’s big quandaries. We were warmed by sunshine. We noticed the changing colors of the leaves. We sat still and talked.
More was accomplished in that 10 minutes than in a thousand “to-do” list-filled hours.
In a world where everything from ab workouts to manicures to turning a pillowcase into an apron is advertised as taking “just 10 minutes,” sometimes the best use of that time is to do nothing.
So go ahead. Do nothing. You have 10 minutes. Starting… now.