This past weekend was a rare one for me. I actually went to the beach and sat in a chair and did nothing but stare at the water, read my book, and nod off. Two days in a row, a total of almost six hours of what most people call, “relaxing.” While this might seem like an article “about nothing,” to paraphrase George Costanza, it’s actually a big deal for me.
I didn’t invent multi-tasking, but I have been rightfully accused by the mermaid of taking it to absurd lengths. Take for instance the day she came home to find me in a weighted vest folding laundry. Looking at me incredulously, she said, “What in God’s name are you doing?” I responded that by doing several baskets of laundry in the basement and then folding said laundry on the second floor, I was able to get something done and also get a workout in at the same time. Needless to say, I received one of those looks reserved for people who used to live at the Seville on the Boulevard.
I am also famous for engaging in conversations with the mermaid while I am either doing the dishes, throwing the trash out, sweeping the floor, bundling papers, or doing some other meaningless, menial task while talking and listening. Apparently, this attempt to do two or possibly three things at one time is somewhat misguided, because the conversations usually don’t end well. And I can see how my actions can be misinterpreted as not listening or “being present,” and I would agree that would be true of most people, but I tell myself I can multi-task.
Even as I write, I have a wash on, the sprinklers on, am waiting for replies to several emails and texts, but continue to type away merrily. Is there something psychologically wrong with me? Possibly. We all need to relax our minds and bodies. But for some, it’s not so easy.
I remember some friends coming to the mermaid’s Yoga Nidra class years ago. The purpose of this type of yoga is to guide one into a state of meditated relaxation. Done well, it can really provide deep relaxation and rest for active minds. My friends couldn’t sit still, listen, meditate or find any relaxation. It was funny, really. Meanwhile I was happily snoring away until someone nudged me to tell me most of the class had left, and the teacher, the one I live with, was in the car and ready to go home.
My wife, known in this column as the mermaid, recently had a conversation with a friend who was trying to convince her to let me back out on the basketball court with the guys. Having been banned since the last knee operation, the conversation went something like this. Friend: we play easy, friendly, no one gets hurt. Mermaid: yeah that’s ok for most people, but my mellow guitar playing mate who pretends to be “love & peace” gets on a basketball court and a switch gets flipped and he becomes super-competitive. Friend: yeah, that’s true…never mind.
I guess guilty as charged. So, if you see me sitting on a beach chair down by the water, try not to interrupt this idle moment of relaxation for this overactive mind. But know this, I probably have the grill on at home pre-heating the hot dogs, the dishwashing machine on, the dryer going. Oh, and if you look at my legs, I might have ankle weights on, because hey, sitting there doing nothing is a good time to get some leg lifts in!!