Nothing to Do

It seems strange to have nothing to do. The house is empty except for small pockets of the clothes and accoutrements of my life. The furniture is gone and my possessions are stored, which means no movies to watch, no books to read. Just my computer to use. Normally having only a computer wouldn’t be a problem since I frequently spend most of the evening online, but the only seat left in the house is a kitchen stool that is not kind to my tailbone. I could go for a walk, but after two hours and forty-five minutes of dance classes today in addition to the mile walk there and back, I’m ready to relax. But there’s nothing to relax with.

miningWhen I first mentioned my idea of an epic walk, a friend asked what I would do with all that time. I had no answer but it’s a valid question. What does one do with time? We fill our time with the chores and piddling tasks of tasks of living, and the time that’s left over, we fill with movies, television, books, magazines, lunches and dinners out with friends. But what does one do if one can’t do any of these things? Since I can’t walk for more than two hours a day especially if I am carrying a pack, there will be a lot of empty time. I could write, of course, but it’s hard to write with an increasingly untamed mind. (Many authors can sit down and watch the story unfold before their eyes, but I have to excavate every idea, every word from the morass at the bottom of my mind, and at the moment, I seem to have misplaced my mining equipment.) Would I be bored? I suppose it’s possible, but it’s just as possible that time will do what it always does, expands or shrinks to fit the available tasks. (The less you have to do, the less time you have to do it in.)

Tonight is easy. I’ll finish this blog, sign a friend up for a March of Dimes walk, download and install the available computer updates for my machine, play a few games of solitaire, and then suddenly, the evening will be gone. But what if I were out by myself somewhere, sitting in a tent, doing . . .

I don’t know. What do you do when you have nothing to do, nothing you can do? If I’m lucky (or unlucky?) someday I’ll find out. Meantime, I hear a game of Spider Solitaire calling my name.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

7 Responses to “Nothing to Do”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    When I have nothing to do or don’t feel like doing the usual things, I go for a walk and see what’s going on outside. You sometimes find good things to do.

  2. Wanda Says:

    Perhaps on your epic adventure your down time could be used to journal each day’s events, your observations and other minutiae. That might be fun. Taking pictures is a great idea too.And as you get more trail-hardened you might end up walking more than two hours a day.

    When we backpacked into places we would be on the trail for 4-6 hours getting in to our location. We’d take breaks but still it was possible to put in those hours. It was kinda great to hit a trail head at 2 am and make camp by sometime after 4 or 5 in the morning.

    Time to ponder life and all that it entails….life on the trail. Real adventure.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Yes to both journaling and picture-taking. For some reason, it takes me a long time to take photos. Maybe because of looking for the proper angle.

      I had no idea you’d been such a backpacker! 4-6 hours? Wow. And walking at night? Double wow. I’m a total neophyte.

  3. leesis Says:

    the obsession with ‘doing’ prevents ‘being’ and there’s a lot to investigate in the world of being :).

  4. frederick anderson Says:

    Why, I don’t know, but somehow I’m drawn to an image of what the first cave home must have been like, in the days before anyone thought of furniture. No wonder they were driven to painting on the walls. Maybe cave art is some coded form of solitaire?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I bet you’re right. It’s amazing that the actions of prehistoric humans are always perceived to have religious connotations, but humans are human, and need to fill time. In fact, they had more time to fill than we do. It’s been shown that a hunter/gather tribe only needed to work 5 hours a day, and even less where the living was easy.

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