Jewish World Review Feb. 3, 2003/ 1 Adar I, 5763
Gayle A. Cox
The value of
My parents live in a modest house surrounded by tall pine trees, and for
the past several weeks, I have been spending time among the pines
Take now, for instance.
I am sprawled on the couch, eating lemon pie, watching logs burn in the
fireplace. Except for an occasional crackle of the wood, the house is quiet.
No radio. No television. No Internet. No computer. No fax machine. No
ringing telephone. Just me, my pie and the smoldering fire.
There is nowhere that I have to be, nothing that I have to do and no one
needing my immediate attention. I am at peace and utterly free.
Free to think.
Free to daydream.
Free to self-reflect.
Free to feel.
It is a wonderful freedom, for sure, with nourishing rewards - mentally,
emotionally, physically and spiritually. But it comes about only during quiet
times of solitude, doing nothing.
Admittedly, doing nothing isn't as easy as it sounds. My first few days
among the pines proved to be quite challenging, as a matter of fact.
For some inexplicable reason, I felt an obligatory urgency to do something.
The mother in me felt an urgency to clean something, to cook something,
to wash something, to iron something, to fold something, to find
something, to explain something or to worry about something.
The writer in me felt an urgency to research something, to write
something, to edit something, to file something, to print something or to
And, of course, the political news junkie in me felt a burning urgency to
listen to something, to watch something, to read something or to debate
Strange as it might sound, doing nothing seemed like a rebellion of sorts,
a mild form of treason, if you please. After all, good citizens are supposed
to stay informed.
And, besides, this was wartime!
How could I justify doing nothing when Osama bin Laden still hadn't been
found and Saddam Hussein still ruled Iraq? It seemed so cold and
indifferent to me.
I mean, at the very least, I needed to turn on the radio and find out if
bombs had been fired by either faction. I mean, I really, really did!
No. Not really.
What I really "needed" to do was to learn how to exit the fast lane, put
the car in park and sit motionless for a spell.
Yes, I had many personal things that I could be worrying about, and much
was happening in the world around me.
But for my own self-preservation, I needed to learn the art of doing
And so, finally, I did.
I learned how to take deep, cleansing breaths, long, warm baths and
slow, lazy walks to the mailbox.
I learned how to appreciate the splendor of the morning sun, dancing
through the pine trees outside my bedroom window.
I learned how to see - and not just look.
I learned how to feel - and not just experience.
But above all, I am learning that doing nothing restores the mind and
refreshes the spirit like nothing else can. Indeed, it is a magical antidote
for wind-blown souls struggling to stay afloat.
Certainly, I will re-enter the fast lane from time to time and see how
everybody in the world is doing without me. But chances are, very little will
Good people still will be doing good things, bad people still will be doing
bad things, and politicians still will be bickering.
So, why worry myself with all of that today? Today, I am going to sit on
the couch, eat lemon pie and watch logs burn in the fireplace.
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JWR contributor Gayle Allen Cox writes from Fort Worth. Comment on this column by clicking here.
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09/26/01: Sadly, the green trees among us don't get a lot of attention
08/26/01: Is eating on the run the next target of Big Brother government?
07/09/01: Teen tramps and the mothers who encourage them
© 2002, Gayle Allen Cox