So many people these days exhaust themselves, by doing something. Obviously doing something is good when you should be doing something (paramedics and even growing vegetables). But don’t do something, when you should be doing nothing!
This way of living is an antidote to the modern world, filled with what the late anarchist lecturer called Bullshit Jobs (a book for anyone whose heart sinks at the sight of a whiteboard, or believes that ‘workshops’ should only be for making things). You know these type of jobs – ones that endure simply because they help powerful people – lobbyists, telemarketers, bailiffs etc.
The Year of Sitting Dangerously is the story by Simon Barnes, whose trip to a Zambian safari was put on hold, due to the pandemic. So instead he walked to a folding chair at the bottom of his garden, and sat down. His itinary is to sit in that same spot each day for a year to see (and hear) what happens all around him.
As he watches the world around him change each day, he begins to see his surroundings in a new way. And by restricting himself, he opens up new horizons and grows closer to a world he thought he knew well. Simon Barnes is the writer of many books on nature and wildlife. He is a council member of World Land Trust and patron of Save the Rhino. Awarded the Rothschild Medal for services to conservation, he lives in Norfolk, where he manages several acres for wildlife.
why the Dutch are masters of doing nothing
Niksen is the Dutch concept of ‘doing nothing’. This is a very interesting concept, because we learn that Dutch children (the happiest in the world) don’t do homework! They also are pretty much given their own freedom, with parents not thinking there’s a child attacker on every street. Families don’t use smartphones or tablets when in a room together, there’s a lot we can learn from them.
a man who does nothing – for a living!
Rental Person Who Does Nothing is a fascinating book. The true story of a man in Japan who literally rents himself out to ‘do nothing’ for most of the time. Services he offers are for things that actually matter: he goes to restaurants with people who don’t want to eat alone, is the other player in a board game or keeps a space in the park for someone to come view the cherry blossom.
Shoji (a Japanese earthquake expert) started his own ‘job’ to offer services for the lonely and socially anxious, after a boss told him that he contributed nothing, and it made no difference whether he showed up to work or not. So he wondered if a person who ‘does nothing’ could still have a place in the world. With one tweet, his Rental Person service was born.
He now rents himself out for useful services, to help others. This can be listening to a secret that someone needs to reveal, ‘testing’ how it would be to have someone live with you or even wave goodbye if you leave a train station for a long journey. The rest of the time – he does nothing!