The Richness of Non-doing

“I’ve basically forgotten how to tap into the richness of ‘non-doing.'” – Josh Radnor. 

When people visit my home, they will often remark, “it’s so peaceful”. It somehow feels clean to them, like a retreat. I have always assumed it was simply because it wasn’t their mess and joke it off. But, my home IS peaceful and I think it’s as much a result of what I DO, as what I “undo” on a regular basis.

Roses, peace, take time to smell the rosesWith all the Marie Kondo craze and organizing hacks on social media, I know we are all seeking control, peace, joy in our homes….even if it means cleaning out the closet or office to try and find it. Side note, not to brag here, but I think I was Kondo before there was one. I have nailed the concept of editing what does not bring joy or is not useful anymore. It’s part of why my home feels peaceful. It’s a good rule of thumb, but not the whole solution.

My mantra at home has always been to reduce “quiet noise”. What is that? It’s stuff that visually clutters my life so that I can’t think straight. It is the piles of papers on and under the desk, the 24 pairs of shoes I trip over at the front door. There is no voice, but believe me when I say, it screams! You know what I’m talking about.

You might say I take a graphic design approach to my home – I seek the white space, the less is more version. I don’t have appliances on every square inch of my kitchen counter top. I rotate my special “things” seasonally so I can use them and see them, but not have everything out at once. In this way – by the “undoing” of something on every surface, the refrigerator, the desk, the walls…I have created a space to breath. To allow a moment without noise. That’s my way, it doesn’t mean it’s your way. But there is something more to this striving.

It occurs to me that the “fads” of organizing and living in our homes from Hygge to Kondo, Container Store to Ikea, and the seeking of perfect spaces, is really a symptom. We are stressed, our lives are filled with messages, news, sound bytes, something hanging on every surface of our thoughts and heart. We are overrun by quiet noise. Our souls don’t have an ounce of “white space” to just rest, day dream, imagine….let alone read, learn, experience. When I am restless or stuck or have a moment pause between things, that mindless reach for the phone to check my feed or texts, is part of the problem. (I know, here I am a marketing gal, writing a blog and sharing it on social, talking about it.. don’t look at me like that.😎.)

We have to be honest though. We don’t have peace because we are seeking it in things, accomplishments, organized spaces, affirmation, projects, bins and lists. Think about it – peace is often depicted with images like a green pasture, like a lamb…gentle, sweet, soft, with bird song, flowers, quiet lapping ripples on water. We long for this peace and look for it by “doing” something. What we need to relearn is the art of “non-doing”.

I’m not talking about zoning out in front of the television (noise!). I’m talking about walking the dog, taking time to drive in quiet and just think, sit and read a book, write in a journal, look at the view from your windows, sit on the good furniture…in your front room. Non-doing is ok but we just aren’t allowing ourselves to stop long enough to realize that your dreams, ideas, imagination can’t be heard over the quiet noise in our souls.

We need to take control and allow space. Space to literally smell the roses…leave the head phones off and take a walk, listen to your favorite album, sip the special wine, turn the TV off, rest.

Maybe this is why the Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God”. But being still is hard. It requires “non-doing”. We can not possibly hear, see or taste how sweet true peace is without sitting still.

After all, we can’t really hear anything, when everything is screaming.

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