I live in a lake community and pass the lake every day, at least twice a
day. On the way to work, on the way home and on the way to stores, I
pass it. If you’re going to take a landmark for granted, it’s a nice one
Sometimes when I drive by, I see service vans, buses and kids’ bikes
parked facing it. Sometimes, I am smart enough not to pass it by.
One day last week, I pulled up to the lake and parked to wait for my
wife and son who were 15 minutes behind me.
“Do I relax enough?” I started wondering,
I watched the busyness in front of me. Kids were running back and forth
to the water. I watched the water splashing. The kids’ parents were
moving slowly in their chairs.
My thoughts slowed down to the speed of lazy toes in the sand. I felt
myself relax a bit.
I backed off of the visual details in front of me. As a way of tamping
down my thoughts, I tried to turn the scene into a two-dimensional work
Instead of seeing people-my neighbors-reading books, sipping drinks and
watching kids, my mind glossed over them, let them slip into the
In other words, I zoned out. As the picture in front of me flattened
out, I felt myself relaxing a little more. The light quietly dancing on
the ripples in the water caught my attention.
Instead of seeing the ice cream wrappers, beach towels and sunblock
strewn across the hot sand, I saw sunbeams in cool water. Instead of
parents yelling at their children to stay close, I heard the kids
Sometimes my wife requests vacations where we do nothing, just sit
somewhere with drinks. I argue that I don’t see the point. I always
think that sounds like a waste of time.
Now I see the point. It’s a way of letting things even out without you.
Taking time to do nothing allows you to disengage, like turning the
details of life into scenery. You can extract yourself-even if it’s only
for a little bit.