CREDOS : Doing nothing — I

You might think there could be nothing more simple than doing nothing for no reason; doing something merely for the pleasure of it, without any thought of future profit or gain, without adding any skill or knowledge to your store, without any usefulness at all. Yet even doing nothing has now become something to do.

A friend of mine, a magazine editor, told me recently how difficult she found it to leave her job behind. We were sitting in a restaurant in downtown Manhattan, and she was aware that she was constantly noticing the clientele, the décor, seeing if there was any angle that might work for a piece in her magazine. She longed to be able to sit down at a table without her work, to have a conversation with a friend that promised no more than the pleasure of their company. Yet her mind wouldn’t let her agenda go.

We each in our own ways have an agenda. We are all lobbyists for our own cause, our own opinions, aspirations, status, or career. While there’s nothing wrong with getting ahead, whatever that may mean, it can also be an enormous relief now and then to lay down our own cause and enjoy wherever we find ourselves on its own terms. You might think that all you need do to have no agenda and do nothing in particular is to allow yourself to sit down one morning in a spontaneous sort of way in the local café without looking at your watch. And, perhaps, to ask for a china cup. It’s true that the cup matters. —