Doing nothing can be rewarding.
Intentionally doing nothing.
I’ve been thinking about that quite a bit lately.
To be precise, I’ve been trying to be aware of it for about an hour and a half every Tuesday between 7 and 8:30 pm.
That’s because near the beginning of the yoga class that I go to at that time, the instructor suggests we choose a quality we would like to develop so we can keep it in mind and nurture it during the session.
It doesn’t have to be the same one every week, but so far, I have always chosen to focus on patience.
I know I don’t have enough of it, but I think it will develop… if I give it time.
I also believe the ability to wait with a quiet mind is extremely valuable in today’s world where advertising and social media constantly encourage us to keep busy and always want more.
That seems unnatural to me, as in it’s not the way things function in the wild.
Look at the lion pictured above.
He doesn’t seem to be doing much… and that’s the way lions look 95 percent of the time… but he is alert, and if dinner wanders too close, he will be ready to pounce.
I’ve seen that first-hand, but only after I stopped chasing after animals in a 4×4 and started spending more time sitting quietly in a vehicle or a hide waiting for the action to come to me.
The same principle holds for watching birds.
I’ve often gone on long relatively bird-free walks and then been treated to many fascinating sightings back in camp.
In the tamer realm of the natural world, farmers know all about waiting for the right time to pull weeds, plant, fertilise and harvest.
Not being prepared to wait can lead to unnecessary work or even crop failure.
That almost happened to me with a grape vine, a year ago over here in England.
The cutting was a birthday gift and it looked like a dried-up stick when I put it in the ground.
After four months of constant watering, it still looked like a stick so the person who’d given it to me and I figured that’s all it would ever be.
She still had the receipt so I decided to dig it up and let her try to get her money back.
Fortunately, I didn’t get around to doing that for another two months, and before I did, a little green leaf appeared.
Evidently, all the growth had been going into the roots for the first half-year and once they were established the vine really took off.
I’d like to take credit for being patient there, but the truth of the matter is I’d lost patience with my little stick and it only survived the spade because I was too lazy to dig it up.
So, there you go. Sometimes it is good to wait with a purpose, and sometimes it is good to wait and watch for opportunities… and sometimes it can even be good to wait with no purpose at all.