The joy of doing nothing

Sunday morning on the river there were dozens of small boats floating in silent meditation like lotus flowers with their buddha fishermen seated plump and low, poles dangling lines in the water, catch and release, a rite of spring. It was as though I had stepped through a shimmering doorway into heaven. Serene as monks they murmured affectionately to their comrades and waved open hands across the water to their neighbors. The birds were delirious with song and among them I heard a voice say There was never a more perfect day, We have everything we need, Tomorrow will take care of itself. The air carried the scent of earth and rain, flowering trees dropped their petals on the breeze, pigeons cooed in their nooks on the seawall, and I felt an unqualified good inside. Like Wow! good. Maybe it was the caffeine, but my inner prism caught the sun, a rainbow arched through my chest, and my heart tap danced. I’m doing okay, I thought. How is that even possible? Where am I?

Billie Best writes about the joy of doing nothing.

The power of feeling good overwhelmed me and I saw how I had been settled into a mental rut expecting to be dissatisfied far into the future, and here I was completely filled with wonder and hippie-dippy love for mankind. The fishermen seemed immortal masters of the universe, drifting calmly through unspeakable tensions and disappointments, gliding along a ribbon of wild water under a splendid sky, superheroes on vacation, stretching their legs and snoozing behind sunglasses. This kind of fishing really isn’t about the fish. Still as tombstones, leaning back against the cooler in duckbill hats, hands folded across the belly, oil stained boots resting on seat cushions, munching donuts with cold coffee — it’s not what you expect from an apex predator.

On the wharf I sat down and immersed myself in the timeless elegance of waiting for fish, the wealth of rivers and the spiritual healing of sunshine. This slow motion dragging of a hook in the water seemed to be less a sport than a religious ritual, a communion of souls with the life force, a reassurance that Nature wants us here, that we are part of her plan. Aluminum lily pads strung along the riverbank like beads invisibly connected to one another by beliefs. A Sunday blossoms into quenching peace, needs are fulfilled by rest, congregants celebrate the joy of doing nothing. Men compete for stillness, to see who can remain silent the longest, unwavering in their resolve to sit and just be one with the water until chance connects their hook to their fish, a treasured creature to be cradled gently in their hands, freed from the meanness of the barb, and released back into the deep, born again. It’s a union of destinies. A fisherman can’t fish without fish.

That morning cleansed me and refreshed my state of mind. I have been so immersed in the drama of the day, oblivious to my own need for respite and recalibration. Now I imagine the gods taking a day off from Armageddon to go fishing, and I want that feeling of release for myself. My survival demands it. I intend to make a religious ritual of doing nothing and perfect my practice.  

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7 thoughts on “The joy of doing nothing

    1. Hi, Kathleen. Nice to hear from you. Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed the post. These are troubled times and I’m happy to give you a lift.

  1. As always I love your writing Bil! Just read this one and from first sentence to last it delivered a balm I didn’t even realize i truly needed. Ahhhhhhhh… thank you!!
    xoxo

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