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04 April 2015

D Is For Doing Nothing


Dock at Coro Wharf  crop

During April, we're participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Every day (except Sundays), we’ll be doing an alphabet themed post starting with “A is for Adventurous” and ending with “Z is for Zinc”. We've got a theme for every letter sorted except for Y. If you have any ideas for the letter Y, please leave a comment or email.

I’m not sure what happened, but I think we’ve turned into old, retired folk with nothing but time on their hands who spend their days doing nothing. Don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t love those lazy days where you putter about and do absolutely nothing. But usually those are scattered few and far between among the majority of days when all you do is something, whether it be work, running errands, doing household chores or picking up take-away for dinner because you’re simply too exhausted from doing something, more something and even more something every single day. 

We’re so lucky to be able to have this time to travel around and do nothing. While we may have more than a few gray hairs on our heads (or at least I do, Scott shaves his head), we’re not quite at that age where it seem socially acceptable to do nothing. To have earned the right to spend hours puttering around, to have the time to read all of the books you want, to not set an alarm and sleep in, take up a new hobby etc.. Sure we worked hard and saved our money and are able to do nothing for a few years (which hopefully we can stretch into more), but I still feel guilty every time we do nothing

A few weeks ago, we were at one of those roadside stands selling fruits, vegetable and other bits and bobs. Scott and I spent what seemed like a really long time looking at every single jar of homemade jelly in search of garlic jelly. We picked up each jar, looked at the labels, showed them to each other and talked about the merits of adding rhubarb to jelly versus guava. We never did find a jar of garlic jelly. But that’s okay, we have nothing but time on our hands to do nothing and find that elusive jar. (If you’ve never had garlic jelly, it is fantastic on toast. We first discovered its wonders at a wonderful cafĂ© in Astoria, Oregon in the 90s and we’ve been looking for it ever since.)

Camping down in Florida we ran into millions of retired snowbirds doing nothing. We’d chat to them, they’d have a look at us and ask us how long we were on vacation for. We’d say, “We’re not sure. We’ve been travelling around since the middle of October and hoping to find a sailboat to live on and travel around some more.”  And then you could see them eye us up and try to figure out how old we were and how it was possible that we could already be doing nothing at our age. Granted, we’re middle-aged, but to your average 70-year old, we seem like new born puppies who should be carded every time they try to buy a lottery ticket. The usual responses run from, “Wow, you look young to be retired already,”You must have a lot of money in the bank,” and the more pointed, “Must be nice to be you.” Occasionally, we get folks who say that they wish they had done what we’re doing – traveling now while we’re young enough and healthy enough to enjoy it. They’re the ones we can really relate to. We’ve seen how fleeting health can be and how many people work to the bitter end only to be too tired and worn out to enjoy those final years. 

We count our lucky stars every single day – after all, we won the “genetic lottery” (in terms of being born in the States and growing up in middle-class families with all of the opportunities that afforded us), have had amazing career opportunities which took us to Scotland and New Zealand and have been able to save our pennies despite the financial crises. Not everyone can be so lucky to be in what must be the top 1% of the world’s population. 

By 1%, I don't mean those fabulously wealthy celebrities you see on television or glossy magazines. If you think about the vastness of the world and how many people there are, it probably is only a teeny-tiny slice of the world's population who are able to go to bed each night with shelter over their heads and full bellies (sometimes too full) and wake the next morning safe and secure. And any even tinier percentage who can also do nothing. Whatever you want to call it – lucky stars, blessings, karma – we’re thankful to have this incredible opportunity to do nothing.

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26 comments:

  1. Enjoy your luxury. You don't get to do nothing for long. A days rest then you need an E.

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    2. Yay a day off! Fortunately, I already have my E sorted :-)

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  2. Very thought-provoking! And a great wake-up call to put things in perspective on a grumpy day. Looking forward to your "E." And "F," and "G," and the rest of the alphabet.

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    1. Thanks! How are you holding up with the challenge? So impressive that you dived right in at the last moment.

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  3. Right on. "Beware the barrenness of a busy life." (Socrates)

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  4. Popping by from the A to Z Challenge! There's a real art to puttering around and learning to relax and do nothing.

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    1. Thanks for popping by Pam. It's been fun to "meet" new people thru the challenge.

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  5. Doing "nothing" is my favourite thing about camping . . . that and fires! :)

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  6. Great Post! We get the "eye" every once in a while too when people try to figure out how old we are! Then next question is usually something related to either how smart or how dumb we are! Haha! Its all an adventure! And yes sometimes I do feel guilty about doing nothing. We currently are not working but have a job lined up for May and we are really looking forward to it.

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    1. Glad we're not the only ones who get the eye! What kind of job do you have lend up - will you be work camping?

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    2. We will be working at a campground in New York by the Adirondack Mountains. We are really excited as we have not been Northeast at all. We will be there almost 6 months. So much to see and do!

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  7. We can relate to "doing nothing" as that has been more or less what we have been doing for the last little while. Sometimes it is really nice to do that and recharge your batteries a little bit.

    Ever since we started living fulltime we have often had reactions similar to yours. We don't really think of ourselves as being lucky though, because life is what you make of it and we just decided not to go with the "normal" way of life, and we are loving our decision. By doing this we have had to give up many other things but we feel that it is worth it.

    www.travelwithkevinandruth.com

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    1. Ah, yes - normal is very overrated. It's amazing how easy it has been to do with less and give things up as part of this nomadic life.

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  8. I'm very good at doing nothing. But then, when things have to be done I get them done! Seems fine to me. I like your last two paragraphs - how very true.
    Anabel's Travel Blog

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    1. Hi Anabel - sounds like you've found the right balance between doing nothing and being productive :-)

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  9. Since you aspire to be full time cruisers, here's something that perhaps you haven't considered.

    Sailing around wears down your boat and its gear far more that being anchored. Boisterous sailing such as in the trades (and especially... routes such as sailing from the tropics to New Zealand and then back out) can really run up your costs from wear & tear.

    So it's a balance to those on a budget. Move around and your boat (and budget) ages in dog years.
    Sit still and you need to master the art of doing little.

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    1. That's true and similar to traveling around in an RV. The more miles you put on the road the more costs you have in terms of maintenance, gas, repairs etc.

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  10. Sounds like you worked hard to get to the point where you can sit and do nothing for a while. I say enjoy it. :-)

    Cait @ Click's Clan

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    1. Thanks Cait - we do intend to savor this time of doing nothing as long as we can :-)

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  11. Hi Ellen. I have nominated you for a Liebster Award. If you would like to accept then go to this link - http://www.thetravellinglindfields.com/2015/04/liebster-award.html - for all the info. BTW - I love your blog.

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    1. Hi Lyn - thanks so much for the nice feedback about our blog! We were actually nominated for the Liebster Award last year - you can check out our answers to the questions here - http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.com/2014/08/liebster-award-cruising.html. But it is very flattering to be nominated again - thanks so much for that! Cheers - Ellen

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  12. Yes, we certainly are lucky to be in the 1% that doesn't have to worry about food, clothing, and shelter. I've gotten those comments, too- 'must be nice to be you', and it's not an age-specific thing (I'm in my thirties). I think it's about how you choose to spend your time, what you prioritize, and what changes in your life you make to be able to do things like travel. People think they're 'stuck' sometimes, but often it's really just a mindset.

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    1. So true - mindset is a big part of it. Some people can't imagine trading in their houses, possessions, careers etc to travel around the world. But luck definitely plays a huge part in it - not everyone is in that small percentage of the population that can choose to change their mindset as all they don't even have food, clothing, shelter etc.

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